By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA—Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr. Eugene Juwah, has said his integrity and that of his commission are on the SIM card registration exercise, and disclosed that NCC had so far paid about N1.7 billion to consultants handling the SIM card registration project.
Juwah stated these while fielding questions on the perceived controversy trailing the project during an interview in his office in Abuja.
“We pay as they register; when operators say they register one person, we verify to ensure that it is not double registration before we pay them N120.
So far, we have not finished verifying all the data given to us, but the data we have verified so far, we have paid about N1.7 billion to them which include the cost of building the back-end here.”
On the N6.1 billion budgeted for the project, Juwah said though it was a huge sum of money, it was still economical compared with similar exercise in other countries.
His words: “Though it looks a lot, it is far smaller compared to other registrations we have made in Nigeria. N6.1 billion to register 80 million subscribers is quite small.
“There is this public bias also when people hear billions. If you compare the budget of SIM card registration between Nigeria and India which is also carrying out this registration, you will notice that it is being carried out by the regulator in conjunction with a special body appointed by government.
“Registration of a subscriber in India costs about $2, which is about N340 but the one NCC is currently doing is the highest registration so far carried out in Nigeria and is about N120 for each subscriber, which is less than half of what India is spending and India is known to be a very low‑cost country.”
He disclosed further that the commission had not been able to meet its deadline in concluding the project, due to certain prevailing circumstances such as synchronization and verification of all data submitted by operators and all accredited companies, including the probe by members of the National Assembly.
So far, the NCC boss said the commission had suspended the project pending when the probe is concluded by the legislators to enable them concentrate on its job, but assured that the process would be hastened to ensure speedy completion as soon as the probe is concluded.