Thu, 07 Mar 2024 Feature Article

NIN-SIM Linkage Catastrophe and the Coming Revolution in Nigeria

NIN-SIM Linkage Catastrophe and the Coming Revolution in Nigeria

The continuous and forceful herding of Nigerians like Fulani Cows and goats, to register umpteenth time for the same National Identity number NIN under different administration and under grueling conditions, without adequate infrastructure and planning, is a catastrophe and will add fire to the revolution coming to Nigeria.

Nigerians were told to register for NIN under the Shagari era, then under Buhari twice, in 1984 as Head of State and 2019 as Civilian President. Under Obasanjo regime, Nigerians were forced to register for NIN yet there is no Identity card to show for it after hundreds of millions of dollars was wasted. During Jonathan Presidency from 2010-2015, Nigerians were herded again to register, only to be told by Buhari’s Minister Pantami that the one done under Jonathan was not complete.

Thus the exercise has been a cesspools of wastage of national resources, wastage of human hours spent in endless queues for an exercise which the operators have not even prepared in advance for the magnitude of stages in the process, including the all important data protection.

I will not approach this piece as a Financial or IT Consultant, because it will expose lots of technical issues and financial mismanagement of procedures, processes and persons, rather, I will limit it to the endless cycles of endless commands to Nigerian cows to queue up and register, endless times, over a service, the banks or telecoms operators would have been seamlessly involves, either as ancillary or outsourcing service.

National Identification Number is a tool used for proper planning, demographic demarcation, financial service enhanced delivery and security. It is an idea well intended to avoid identity theft, eradicate fraud, fight money laundering and easily access the homogenous needs

The attempt to kick start the National Identification project since the Obasanjo era as military head of state till date has been fraught with monumental l fraud, incompetence, insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians.

Approximately, over N400 billion naira has been spent on the exercise, yet there is no identity insight. When Isa Pantami became minister of Communications, he revived the white elephant project, and gave it a dictatorial face. People were forced to queue up for days to be captured by obsolete equipment, and when the frustration were mounting, they were denied essential services, to force them to stand in the sun for days to get registered.

In the hurry to get registered, lots of monumental sharp practices took place. The Officials were hurriedly inputting anything on the database in order to discharge the customer, and fleece the next in line. In the process people’s names, phone numbers, date of birth and other relevant information were turned upside down. At the end, when true harmonization started, almost half of those who enrolled for NIN had a fault or the other in the registration.

From various reports I have seen, it is obvious that millions have unsuccessfully tired to update, change, or correct errors in the NIMC Databases by visiting their outlet, yet whenever they need any government service that requires verification, the verdict would return error, invalid registration, etc.

When NIMC office belatedly acceded to the fact that they cannot handle the volume of the work, the then Minister of Communications Isa Pantami, announced the employment of third party vendors to do the registration, there were issues of technical uploadability, convertibility and auditing. Most persons, who used these third party vendors to register and have slips, were told later that their slip is worthless because their registration has error.

Therefore, the masses are meant to suffer for the technical competence of an organization that lacks the technical requisite to register about 100 million Nigerians.

Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote and The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC Vice Chairman Aminu Maida in another insensitive and shameless episode, have asked telecoms operators to bar over 40 million lines belonging to Nigerians because they did not link their NIN to their Sim Cards by the 28th of February, 2024. I will not be suirprised that by b 2027 or 2031 another administration starts talking another nonsense in the name of NIN. It started with Obasanjo in 1978.

This is despite the fact that the technological infrastructure to handle simple discrepancies correction is almost non-existence; the public is being saddled with bearing the burden for the failures of government officials.

These discrepancies and technological sluggishness was not addressed, yet the same NIMC or whatever they represent, gave another marching order that all Sim Cards not linked to NIN should be blocked. This latest policy has thrown Nigerians into quagmire.

In essence, over 40 milloion lines have been blocked, and over N200 biillon revenue monthly lost. This is an economy where inflation is eroding the purchasing power of people. this is an economy where hunger protests is ravaging the land. This is an economy where bandits are rampaging in over 20 states in Nigeria. There is no way causing Nigerians to throng any form of enrolment centre over for days to link their Sim Card to NIN at such notice is acceptable.

What is expected with the officials at the centre is to first update their infrastructure, enable portability and integration, train and audit properly third party vendors, have a swift manner of verifying all registered uploads to ensure compliance. They could implement some vital checklists, automatically generated, to ensure a seamless foreboding.

Without any of these measures being put in place, it is not trite to give Nigerians deadline to link NIN to SIM. NIMC should give itself deadline to upgrade and franchise their activities to competent operators. When they have achieved proper integration, they can then give Nigerians deadlines.

However, because Nigerians are treated like Fulani Cows that are pushed through from the deserts to the rain forests against their will and slaughtered at abattoirs without their consent, it is easy to give them deadline s statistically proven to add no value to national developmental indices.

During Covid-19, Nigerians were herded like cows over a disease that is a fraud in itself. During voter registration, people are commanded like cows to queue up to collect their voters’ card endlessly for days. During elections, people are commanded to wait till 4pm before voting materials that should arrive by 8am . During currency change 0f 2023, Nigerians were herded like cows to queue up to receive N5,000 daily at ATM. This is the Nigerian story. .

Because some silly regulatory authorities have powers to block peoples mobile lines at will, without any regards for consumer protection, NIMC and Ministry of Communication officials wakes up and commands that the means of contacting loved ones, sick ones, unhappy ones and means of livelihood be blocked over an issue that is purely their fault. This is Nigeria,

I want to caution Tinubu’s men to call to order these overzealous officials who are falling over themselves to implement a policy that is at askance with the social security situation in Nigeria.

Banditry, kidnapping, terrorism is increasing monthly in reported cases in Nigeria yet no bandit has been apprehended using NIN . Hunger protests are being held down by some ethnic nationalities in order not to inflame the polity. Some responsible Governors are invading food warehouses to stabilize prices, yet the rate of food is increasing. Naira has depreciated beyond expectations, and some persons in NIMC and Ministry of Communicatons wants to ban over 40 million lines on an issue that is purely their own incompetence, technological sluggishness , exacerbating the tension in the land

It is equally shameless that Telecom Operators in Nigeria, who are a major employers of labour, directly or indirectly, of over 500,000 Nigerians, cannot advise the regulatory authorities of the implications of their action.

I want to warn those herding Nigeria into Armageddon by Impulsive implementation of policies that the attempt to herd Nigerians like Cows, to link their lines to the NIN, without adequate technological, infrastructural deployment, is adding to the frustration in the land and is an incendiary to the coming revolution.

Obinna Akukwe , Columnist, Activist, is a Financial and IT Consultant