FG defends ultimatum to block SIM cards, blames Nigerians for rowdy exercise

By Simdi Gloria:-

The Federal Government has said that Nigerians are to be blamed for the ongoing rowdy exercise to link their sim cards to the National Identity Numbers (NIN).

Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Communication, and digital economy minister said the government gave everyone about 12 months to complete the exercise but many ignored it.

He argued that linking sim cards to NIN was designed to be a smooth process that turned rowdy because people chose not to comply with the government’s directive.

The deadline was announced since February 2020 – the first day that the policy was announced in Nigeria was on 4th February 2020,” Pantami in an interview on Channels Television Politics Today on Friday.

“So it was announced since then that every citizen who owns a sim card should obtain a national identity number and submit same to the mobile line operator.

“Citizens, instead of going to obtain their national identity number, they fail to do that, they keep debating…they couldn’t comply.”

The government agency noted that all telecom service providers who fail to block sim cards unregistered with NIN after the two-weeks risk withdrawal of their operational license.

“​The submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks (from today December 16, 2020, and end by 30 December 2020),” NCC spokesperson Ike Adinde said in a statement.

The deadline has since been extended by up to six weeks, from December 30 to February 9, 2021.

Nigerians have lamented concerning the strenuous procedures to register for NIN even before the deadline was announced in December 2020.

As of June 2020, the NIMC website said only 41.5 million Nigerians had the required identity numbers to link their phone numbers.

The government in mid-December 2020 licensed 173 Agents and 30 state governments/public sector institutions to conduct enrolment of all persons including legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) on behalf of the NIMC to avoid bulk of registering over 50 million Nigerians.

Patami said the exercise was designed to ensure that it does not take each citizen more than 20 minutes to get registered.

“The problem is you know how our citizens are – we need attitudinal change. We announced that all the processes must be under COVID-19 guidelines but citizens will go there (when) their names are not part of those to be captured. You will ask them to go but they will not,” Pantami said.

“Even security agencies are there to plead with them and they will not go and all the crowd you see in Abuja and Lagos…90% of them are not part of those that have been invited to be captured.

“The problem we have is not with the union, NIMC, or the ministry, it is with our citizens. They need attitudinal change.”

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