Writeen By Isah Kamisu Madachi (Ambassador)
Reported by Sameen Y Saeed (DR SYS), Kano State Nigeria,
I am pleased with the collective and individual efforts of fellow compatriots, particularly the minister of communication and digital economy, Dr. Isah Ali pantami, towards making Nigeria a crime-free state by ensuring that the NINs are properly linked with SIM cards. This singular act will curtail the activities of kidnappers, bandits, bokoharamist and other criminals. And by so doing, the country will regain its lost image as the giant of African – the most populous and economically vibrant. However, the so called giant of Africa is crippled by stinking corruption and mishandling of funds meant for the masses, and poverty, joblessness and hunger has further compounded the situation. Making the country one of the most unsecured and unstable countries in the world.
It is almost two weeks, since minister of communication and digital economy, Dr. Isah Ali Pantami, directed the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to embark on an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database to fish out those whose Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards are improperly registered. The NCC has already ordered all the telecom operators to demand for the National Identity Number of their customers and to disconnect any sim card whose owner fails to provide valid NIN before the end of February, 2021
The incisive order was given by the Federal Government so as to stop using pre-registered SIM cards or the ones that are not being properly registered. This is because it has long been discovered that bandits, kidnappers, insurgents and other terrorists, take advantage of such SIM cards to perpetrate their distasteful acts.
What surprises me and draws my attention to write on this issue is; someone whom I know somewhere in Nigeria, told me that at the place where he lives, if one has a valid National Identity Card, one can go to a certain place and give his it to some people who will promptly capture the NIN on the card and pay the carrier sum of three thousand naira. All the same, if you are not enrolled in the Identity System, then you can go to those people who buy others’ NIN and link your SIM card with someone else’s NIN, whom you do not know, which is so devastating.
WHERE IT STARTS?
1. According to the Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz Abubakar, only 38% of Nigerians have any means of identification (including voter’s card, driver’s license, National Identity Card and others) while over 100 million Nigerians have no any means of identification. This means that despite the relentless call to Nigerians through newspapers, radio and television to go and have the Identification numbers, as it’s compulsory for every citizen; yet, more than half of Nigerians do not take the issue of identity serious. Thus, they are not enrolled in the system, which is now mandatory for all and sundry for them to continue operating their SIM cards.
2. Now that large number of people have waken up and started rushing helter-skelter to acquire their NIN numbers, the NIMC staff who are responsible for enrolling people; on their side collect some amount of money that in some areas is up to one thousand, some five hundred while others pay three hundred or two hundred Naira.
In a certain area I visited recently, despite the mammoth crowd of people waiting for their turn, moreover, some NIMC staff did not even start the enrollment exercise, until after they first go to some houses where they did it for some influential. And this made people grow too weary and completely loose hope. Hence, they went to these above mentioned people, where they collect five hundred naira, and did the needful to them within seconds.
3. It was reported that there exist more than 184 million registered SIM cards/mobile lines and 9.2m improperly registered SIM cards in Nigeria. With these figures compared to the number of minority with NIN numbers, I doubt if the exercise could be completed in the approved 6 weeks.
Succinctly put, the only solution I propose which will effectively help towards simplifying the exercise is for the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy to direct network operators to start approving other means of identification such as voter’s card, driver’s license and Bank Verification Number as an alternative. With this, I am pretty sure that, even within the earlier ordered two weeks the seemingly ‘big task’ could be completed.
Going forward, nonetheless; there is, of course, a dire need to sensitize people on the likely implications of using someone else’s National Identity Number. Many people, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, are not aware of the essence of the ongoing exercise. On the other hand, I met someone who collects just one hundred naira, to connect people’s SIM cards to his NIN. As he told me, he so far connected more than 200 SIM cards with his NIN.
Simply put, however, the Ministry of Communication should sufficiently fund NIMC to embark on a fresh exercise of selecting some of the best SIM card vendors across the country, train them and permit them start the NIN enrollment exercise. This can help in drastically reducing the large unsolicited crowd in the NIMC centres. And this will help in cleaning the exercise.
Isah Kamisu Madachi writes from Katagum Local Government of Bauchi State Nigeria.