Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said the Muhammadu Buhari regime has mandated the linking of National Identification Numbers(NIN) with Nigerians’ digital devices in order to track their activities online.

Mr. Pantami made the statement at the International Partnership Forum in Paris, France, on Thursday.

Pitching to investors, the Minister noted that Nigeria was joining its foreign counterparts to mandate NIN for all legal residents, which will be used to reveal identities of everyone who logs onto the internet.

According to him, NIN will form a crucial part of Nigeria’s security structure as the government can now unveil citizen’s true identity through their online activities.

“Some of these initiatives that happen to be the foundation of even our economy is the introduction of the National Identification Number. Nigeria has joined the global community by making the use of National Identification Numbers for both citizens and legal residents mandatory,” he said. 

“This is going to be the foundation of our economy and also the foundation of our security that whoever happens to go online, his identity will be known by the Federal government and also by our security institution. 

Mr Pantami justified his position, saying the Nigerian Constitution stipulates that the government’s primary responsibility is the security and safety of its citizens.

He stated that President Buhari has been so passionate about the push to bring all residents of Nigeria under the compliance to NIN registration.

 

Mr Pantami assured prospective investors of digital safety, declaring that more than 67 million persons have already enrolled for the security initiative.

“As it is today, the enrollment has been over 67 million and most importantly we are able to capture the most important category of people that come out to do businesses.” 

The minister also mentioned that Nigeria residents who are not captured under NIN would no longer be able to enjoy government services as NIN has become a prerequisite for access to business and social services.

“So it becomes a prerequisite to enjoying government services and I believe this will bring more peace of mind to potential investors to know that the government has been doing something significant in that regard,” he stated.

In April 2021,  Mr Pantami, also a Muslim cleric, came under public spotlight and criticisms for his extremist affiliations as an Islamic preacher.

His infamous support for terrorist groups al-Queda and the Taliban drew intense ire from the public who queried how such a hardliner could be entrusted with sensitive National data.

Mr Pantami has not recanted his past extremist views but has continued to maintain that he has no untoward motives to people of other faiths.

The minister continues to enjoy the confidence of Mr Buhari despite several calls for his resignation. 

In the heat of the controversy, the Presidency claims Mr Pantami held such salacious views when he was below the age of accountability, a claim that has been found untrue as the minister was in his 30s during the explosive preachment.

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