Following hitches faced by many mobile phone subscribers in linking their Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) with valid National Identification Numbers (NINs), Saturday Telegraph investigation has revealed that many Nigerians, especially those in the rural communities and hinterlands across the states of the Federation are still oblivious of the real intent of the government’s directive on NIN. Many of them told Saturday Telegraph exclusively that the whole exercise appears “strange and unprofessionally handled.”
It was also gathered that arguments put forward by many of these subscribers are that the three-tiers of government across the states have “shown apparent disdain and a poor sense of leadership” in effectively coordinating the enrolment process, hence the numerous hiccups. Investigations by Saturday Telegraph revealed that anxious Nigerians have continued to gather at NIMC offices across the nation to register for their NINs.
For instance, a mobile subscriber with 9mobile network, who simply gave his name as Charles Azubuike Ohanba, an indigene of Otamkpa in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State, said he was simply tired of the whole exercise as he had been “forced” to go to Umuahia on five occasions without any success in getting his NIN registration. According to him, “I do not know what they want me to do again. Going to Umuahia just to get this NIN registration is frustrating and agonising.
I spend close to N4, 300 on each occasion. I don’t just understand.” Another subscriber, Dame Judith Ogba, said her anger stemmed from the fact that the whole ex-ercise “appears sabotaged.” She said: “First, how many of us in these rural areas understand the whole procedure. It is very sad. No enlightenment campaign. No follow-up broadcast such as door-to-door awareness, among others. “This is very sad. I do not know what they want us to do yet they are telling us that there is deadline.
The government should do its homework well before they set the nation on fire because I do not know how they want to deactivate subscribers, who fail to link up by February 9.” On his part, an elder statesman, Pa Chinedu Ugwunba, an indigene of Umuahia, told Saturday Telegraph, that at 77, he does not know what the government is saying about the whole exercise. He said: “Is the government expecting me to go and queue in the name of getting enrolled for NIN, when I already have my BVN? For me, this is absurd and ill-conceived.” However, Saturday Telegraph visit to some NIMC offices in Abia State showed that anxious Nigerians continued to gather at some of these offices with the intent of getting registered ahead of the February 9 deadline. Recall that the Federal Government had ordered telecommunications companies to deactivate the telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their SIMs with valid NINs. As the outcry continued, Saturday Telegraph visited Uturu community, where the Abia State University is located and sought the views of residents concerning the NIN issue. Speaking on this, Madam Philomena Onyekachi, said she wasn’t aware of the NIN enforcement. She said as a poultry manager, her time schedule on daily basis was streamlined, stressing that she rarely has time for herself let alone bother about issues which government has “not been sincere about.” “What do they want me to do? I don’t have time and if they want, they can block my line. After all, my children are there to help me do the errands better,” Onyekachi, who is in her late 70s, told this reporter. Another resident, a retired matron in Umuahia General Hospital, who craved anonymity, simply told this reporter, “is this government ever serious? How can I leave my house everyday to go and queue up simply because they want me to link my SIM with NIN, when already I have my BVN? It’s sad.”
Residents unaware of SIM-NIN linkage in Ibadan
The situation seems to be worse in many rural localities in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo state. Thousands of inhabitants of Ikereeku community in Akinyele Local Government of Oyo State are ignorant of the exercise. The community largely inhabited by the Egedes, who work as labourers in the farms of the locals, is more than 60 kilometers from Moniya, where the secretariat of Akinyele Local Government Area is located. When Saturday Telegraph visited the community, residents complained of being unaware of the exercise. According to Mufutau Olobade, a farmer: “We don’t know what the government wants to do. It was not until yesterday that the Baale came back from the local government council meeting and told us that we won’t be able to make phone calls if we don’t have NIN. “We are not aware of anything. If they block it now, our families who live in distant lands won’t be able to reach out. Our customers who buy farm produce cannot call us.” Corroborating him, Ramota Ajile, who sells local herbs to the farmers in the community noted; “I don’t even have a National ID card. I have enrolled for it since 2018 but I haven’t been given. I could remember I spent three days at Moniya local government secretariat.
“Nothing came out of it. How do we now get it? Nobody told us anything. I only heard it on the radio briefly a few days back and I don’t even understand how to go about it.” These two just like thousands others who live in Ikereeku community as well as thousands more in villages after Ikereeku such as Alagbaa, Dabadango, Ayepola,Atafa and many more might have their SIM cards blocked February 9.
The situation is the same in other hinterlands in Oyo state. A visit by Saturday Telegraph to Sagbe village in Ona Ara Local Government Area revealed gross ignorance of the exercise. When asked if they are aware of the SIM-NIN linkage exercise, residents of the community replied that they are aware of such thing. Upon explaining the implication of not linking their SIM with their NIN, most residents simply resigned to fate and believed that there is no way they won’t be part of the subscribers who might be cut-off the telecommunication network.
“If that is what they want to do, we won’t be able to use our phones because we don’t even know there is something like this going on. Most of us don’t have the NIN they want and those of us who have can’t go to the local government (secretariat) at Akanran to wait for long hours for this. “It’s too far; it will take you close to two hours from here and we can’t be sure that we will be able to do it there and there is no NIMC centre here unless we go to the local government,” Ajayi Bamgbade complained. “How will I call your brothers in Lagos if they block it now?” Bamgbade’s mother, an elderly woman in her 90s’ mumbled under her breath.