Despite criticisms from many Nigerians of the two-week ultimatum for the registration and linking of National Identity Number (NIN) to mobile numbers, the federal government has insisted on the deadline.
The director-general of the National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC), Aliyu Abubakar, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Friday said there was no extension for the announced deadline.
“Right now, the way it is, there is no extension. We should not be complaining, rather we should see how it can be done,” he said.
“It is until after 10 to 12 days then we will see how far it has gone before we beg the government for anything.”
When the agency issued a two-week ultimatum for the enrolment, Nigerians took to social media platforms to kick against such a deadline.
“In the whole of Yaba-Akoka axis, there is only one NIN registration office, which is in UNILAG, and they have only one functioning desktop! Even if you give people a whole year extra, there aren’t enough resources to register provided by the government!,” Xl2letters said on Twitter.
Putting the festive atmosphere and the threat of the coronavirus into context, another Twitter user, Salsu explained the difficulty that may come with the process.
“During a pandemic? Just 2 weeks? Festive season? I don’t agree with this. It isn’t the right time for this and the notice is short. I hope it would be possible for those of us with NIN to email our network providers rather than going to their office,” he noted.
“It doesn’t work that way. The process should be well articulated. NCC does not have the capacity to serve larger crowds at a moment. My problem with leaders in this country is that they don’t think,” Buchy Ogba succinctly captured the view of some of the platform users on this subject.
“You better start blocking it. The centre for NIN is beside my area and we only have one. I once sat there with my dad for registration for two weeks consecutively +we get there by 6am in the morning. The reason why I endured sitting there was because my dad was going on a pilgrimage,” another user with the handle @Adekeye added.
Breakdown of licensing agents
In a statement on Thursday, NIMC pegged the total number of licensed agents at 1,000, including the newly 173 private sector agents and 30 public institutions.
The breakdown of the newly licensed agents showed that 16 state governments were licensed, including Abia, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Lagos, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Oyo, Ogun, Sokoto, Delta, Ebonyi, Cross River, Adamawa, Zamfara states and branches of the Nigerian Postal Service across the nation.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Pension Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria (through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems Plc), National Population Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Joint Tax Board and Nigeria Postal Services, have also been licensed.
Other public sector organisations issued licences include Military Pensions Board, Abuja Enterprise Agency, Corporate Affairs Commission, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Agricultural Extension & Research Liaison Services and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants & Internally Displaced Persons.
The main mobile network operators in Nigeria, MTN, Airtel, Globacom and 9mobile are among the 173 private sector organisations licensed, while Etranzact, VDT Communications, Unified Payment Services were also successful.
Seven NGOs, namely Africa Youth Growth Foundation, An Nadaa Educational Foundation Arrida Relief Foundation, Hadejia Ina Mafita Initiative Community Based Organisation Mimido Initiative & Development and Murna Foundation were also licensed.
As it stands, only about 43 million Nigerians have enrolled for their NIN since the inception of the commission in 2012 out of the over 208 million population of the country.
The population of unregistered citizens far outnumbers the approved office, an aching concern for Nigerians.
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) also put the number of network subscribers at 207 million, showing that the number of Nigerians yet to enroll is between 164 million to 165 million.
Despite its eagerness to increase the number of enrolled citizens, the FG had not been able to establish licensed agents in all the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Asides the short notice given by the government and limited centres, the coronavirus pandemic might be a huge obstacle to this seeing as social distancing is required in combating the virus.
Not less than 75,000 persons have contracted the virus while 66,775 persons have been discharged, with 1,200 persons dead.
According to the guidelines by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC), only 50 people are allowed in an enclosed space provided distancing rules are followed.
“Outdoor gatherings are preferred; all attendees must wash or sanitize their hands before and after attendance and Physical distancing and wearing of face masks must be adhered to for all attendees,” it said.
With Christmas just a week away and many Nigerians planning on travelling, the two weeks given coincides with the entire festive period, which has left many people worried.
Other factors are also to be factored into this, such as electricity and internet. Epileptic electricity supply can have a negative impact on this, so also can unstable internet connection.
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