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NIN defaulters risk 14-year jail term, says minister

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…no plans to lift ban on SIM registration

THE Federal Government has warned that those yet to obtain their National Identification Numbers risk seven or 14 years imprisonment as stipulated by the constitution.

Government also said there was no plan to lift the ban on new Subscriber Identification Module registrations any time soon for security reasons.

Already, the FG said as of March 31, 2021, only 51 million Nigerians had been authenticated for NIN.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, who disclosed these at the sixth edition of the ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said government had planned to ensure that in the next two years, the country will have a database.

He added that when it came to addressing the issue of security, the economy takes back stage. He also said it is an offence to pay taxes, have voters’ card or even pay pension without the NIN.

The minister said, “President Muhammadu Buhari gave priority to security because it is our number one primary responsibility as a government.

“The ban on SIM may affect our economy in some ways but when addressing the issue of security, the issue of economy is second because you have to protect your citizens before you talk of economy.

“The decision was taken in order to ensure that we contribute our quota in making our country safe and secure for all. We know it’s painful but it’s necessary.

“In September 2019, we did audit exercises and we allowed a process of auditing and the process of new SIM to go concurrently. We discovered that some of the agents doing the registration compromised the system badly to the extent that while we were doing audit exercise in 2019, they allowed people to come. “One person will be invited, he would be given a little amount of money, they will use his biometric to register a hundred cards online and get a passport to attach to it and they will complete the bio-data and the SIM will be activated.

“But as you know, criminals, whether bandits or terrorists, always exploit this SIM and we don’t want to allow our platform for perpetration of criminality in our country.

“This is one of the most difficult decisions taken as a minister. It is a very painful decision but we had to take it.”

Pantami also put the number of SIM card subscribers linked to NIN at over 150 million, adding, however, that enrollment of NIN was 51 million as at March 31, 2021.

“So what we are doing now is matching all the SIMs with NIN; this has become necessary for security purposes,” he said.

He explained that while 150 million completed registration, the remainder had problems of improper registration.

Pantami further stated that while obtaining a SIM card might be optional, NIN is mandatory, citing Section 27 of the NIMC Act of 2007.

He said it is a criminal offense in Nigeria to carry out business activities without first acquiring the NIN number.

He said, “The NIMC Act, clause 27 states that you need the NIN number for opening bank accounts, for insurance, land transactions, voters registration, drivers licenses.

“So, it is an offense to transact any business activity without first having your NIN.”

He said the number of enrolment centres had doubled; while number of computers had been tripled, adding that NIN will determine the number of Nigerians that had registered because of the unique number.

Pantami further noted that the cost of data provided by telecommunications companies had been halved since last year from about N1,200 per gigabyte to leas than N500 at present.

He, however, blamed some state governors for the high cost of data production by inflating the charges telecommunication firms pay state governments for right of way in installing their cables.

“Some states charge as high as N60,000 per linear metre, whereas it should not ordinarily be more than N145,” he said.

The minister said he had engaged the governors through the Nigeria Governors Forum and pleaded with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in the matter.

According to him, if the anomaly is corrected fully, GSM and telecom firms will charge cheaper for data.

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Buhari signs N983bn supplementary budget into law

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the 2021 supplementary appropriation bill of N983 billion into law.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (House of Representatives), Umar El-yakub, announced this while briefing state house correspondents after the signing.
He said a total sum of the supplementary budget assented to is N982,729,695,343, adding that the supplementary budget would be largely focused on funding security and health concerns.
The assent by the President is coming a month after the Federal Executive Council approved the supplementary budget for the year 2021.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had said the budget contained an aggregate sum N770.60 billion to further enhance the capacity of the defense and the security agencies to address current and emerging security challenges in our country.
Ahmed said a total of N83.56 billion expenditure is set aside in the budget for COVID-19 vaccine programme, covering 30 million vaccines from Johnson and Johnson and the logistics costs related to the deployment of the vaccines.
The budget also has N40 billion provision to take care of the needs for allowances to the health, education sectors, and other wage-related issues.
Ahmed had added that the supplementary also had N1.69 billion for the Nigeria Comprehensive AIDS programme.

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Gas-powered mass transit buses set for operation in Nigeria

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A revolutionary mass transit operation using ECO-Green buses is soon to be introduced in some Nigerian city centres.
The buses already being used in major cities of the world are powered by flare gas recovered compressed natural gas (CNG), which is usually flared in the Niger Delta, Nigeria and causing environmental pollution and crisis in the region.
Chief Executive Officer of Austrian Technologies Nigeria Limited, Johann Rieger, said the ECO-green buses had been built on European standards for critical climate and infrastructure as in Nigeria.
According to him, the buses are the safest and most economic public mass transit vehicles that can reduce carbon footprints by 95 per cent and operating cost by 30 per cent.
Specifically, he said the buses, coming with a lifespan of at least 15 years, had been equipped with engines of higher emission standards (Euro 5) with no toxic, smog or smoke, guaranteeing reduced noise and lower fuel costs. In Malaysia, those buses run 15 years with over 90% average uptime.
Rieger also said the project would guarantee local capacity building of the buses through extensive transfer of the technology and know-how within a short time of the entire value chain.
Indeed, he said, “Up to 70 per cent of all components of the eco-green buses should be manufactured or assembled locally within five years of operation including the first green engine.”

He said the project would come with uniquely designed and efficient drivers’ safety training that would allow safe increase of passengers’ capacity by 30 per cent in accordance with international standards of public transport.

He said the vehicle had been built with the highest operational standards and expected to save the operator a minimum of $25,000 in comparison to any other large capacity bus.

He noted that six eco-green buses would do the job of at least 10 biggest BRT buses currently being operated in Nigeria and by switching over to locally available natural gas, he said at least $20,000 of foreign exchange is also saved.

He noted that driving with natural gas is the most environmentally friendly solution wherever this green fuel is available. They partnered already with local CNG suppliers who are ready to invest and guarantee 24/7 availability of the gas directly inside the bus depot of operators anywhere in the country.

About 90 per cent uptime, and maximum efficiency and transparency would be guaranteed through permanent real-time monitoring of each bus by eco- telematics and extended after-sale service with 24/7 spare parts availability and directly including service and wear parts for the first two years, said Rieger.

Some of the unique features of an ECO-green bus are given as roof mounted CNG cylinder with up to 500km range and gas leakage detection system and tyre pressure monitoring system.
The air and surfaces in their buses is permanently and chemical free sanitized by their ECO Viroxx air conditioning system with bipolar ionization.
Others are speed limiter, alcohol test and driver’s fatigue detection with driver’s biometric identification, CCTV camera system that can be directly integrated into the city surveillance system reverse camera; handicapped ramp and wheelchair area.

Rieger listed some of the technical features of the bus as electronic dashboard with extended eco-telematics system, real time driver’s feedback on safety and economic driving; on board video education in cooperation with UNICEF.
The bus is said to come on the same bus platform as 8.7m for 60 passengers; 10.5m for 80 passengers, 12m for 100 people and 18m accommodating 160 passengers.

 

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Autochek, Appzone collaborate on flexible vehicle finance solution

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Autochek automotive technology company has entered into a partnership with Appzone Group, a leading FinTech firm, to provide Nigerians with quick and flexible access to car financing, including those in the rural areas.
The partnership, according to the two firms, will see the Autochek platform integrating with Appzone’s proprietary digital core banking service, BankOne, in facilitating access to credit from over 400 microfinance institutions for people across the country.
Speaking at the official signing event, Chief Technology Officer at Autochek, Chetan Seth, said, “Obtaining access to financing in Nigeria is a tedious process. At Autochek, we are committed to providing consumers with seamless access to credit in order for them to own their vehicles. With technology, we are able to provide vehicle financing at sca d this will be accelerated even further by integrating with le, an Appzone’s network.
“We are very much customer-focused and we operate in an on-demand economy, we therefore recognise the need to efficiently provide a plethora of options for customers to access loans. Our partnership with Appzone will enable us to further increase their options through access to the microfinance banks currently available on their platform.”

Mr Mudiaga Umukoro, the CEO of Appzone Core, a subsidiary company of Appzone Group said, “BankOne is our flagship product and Africa’s foremost banking-as-a platform (BaaP) solution. Over the last 10 years, we have focused on digitizing the microfinance sector. We have enabled over 400 microfinance institutions spread across the entire country, with the capability for fully-digital banking operations. And now through our partnership with Autochek, these institutions available can now provide quick digital loans to prospective car owners anywhere in Nigeria.
“What this ensures is a win-win approach as MFBs can target more customers as well as increase revenue through loan offerings, whilst customers across the country, either in urban or remote areas, are more easily empowered with business and/or personal vehicles with little hassle.”
Some details about the new auto loan arrangement provided in a statement indicate that the credit sourcing process starts with the listing of prequalified vehicles from the dealers on Autochek’s platform.
Potential customers have the opportunity to select their choice from a pool of cars that have gone through a 150 point inspection process carried out by Autochek’s accredited technical experts.
The customers are then able to submit their loan applications digitally through the autochek website to over 400 financial partners currently available on Appzone’s BankOne network. Within 24 hours, customers receive multiple offers and have the option to select their most preferred financial partner.
Appzone transitions all accepted loan applications into the BankOne’s proprietary credit administration module which automatically enables the account opening, underwriting and eventual disbursement.
The customer is now able to get a transparent step-by-step update throughout the whole process.

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