Telecom subscribers who are yet to link their National Identity Numbers (NINs) with mobile SIM cards have continued to crowd registration centres across the country in a bid to beat the February 6 deadline.
The federal government had ordered telecommunication operators to block numbers without NIN.
The order generated a huge demand for the NIN with a large crowd visiting the NIMC Enrolment Centers nationwide.
In a desperate move to get the SIM cards linked to their NINs, the subscribers have ignored COVID-19 protocols, raising serious concerns among stakeholders about a spike in the virus from the registration exercise.
At some of the registration centres visited by our correspondents, it was observed that most Nigerians who are fraught over the threat by the federal government to block their SIM cards defied COVID-19 protocols to join the long queues to link their NIN with their mobile SIMs.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) had released new guidelines for the enrollment of the National Identity Number.
A statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Kayode Adegoke, had noted that the commission had adopted a couple of measures to contain the spread of the virus while ensuring its services to Nigerians are not entirely interrupted.
It said attending to applicants would be based on Booking System. For Bookings, applicants are to visit any of the NIMC Offices closest to them during stipulated business hours (9am – 1pm).
Although, the policy has been in place since February 4, 2020, applicants are now crowding all the centers.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said only 47.8 million subscribers have submitted their NINs.
This is contained in a statement by Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, NCC director, Public Affairs, in Lagos.
Adinde quoted minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, as saying that the figure showed that many Nigerian subscribers would be linked to their NINs before the Feb.9, deadline.
Pantami said that the collection of NIN was at an average of three to four SIMs per subscriber.
He expressed Federal Government’s appreciation for the commitment shown by stakeholders and citizens and urged them to submit their NINs before the deadline.
The minister called on the technical team to fast-track the processes so that the project would be delivered soonest.
“The Technical Implementation Committee, under the Ministerial Task Force, reported significant progress in the ongoing NIN-SIM linkage,” he said.
The minister drew attention of Nigerians to the App developed by federal government which allowed subscribers to link up to a maximum of seven SIMs to their NINs.
He, however, urged Nigerians to secure and protect their NINs, urging subscribers to desist from selling their numbers or allowing others to use them for registration.
“For any action committed with the SIM, good or bad will be officially traced and attached to the NIN owner,” Pantami said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has expressed concerns over possible spike in COVID-19 transmission as a result of the NIN/ SIM card registration exercise.
It urged the federal government to ensure that safety measures are provided at all the registration centres across the country.
The NMA president, Prof. Innocent Ujah, while speaking with journalists in Jos, warned of possible spike in infection rate if people continue to ignore COVID-19 guidelines during the exercise.