Millions of Nigerians may have their sim cards disconnected when the remaining two-week ultimatum given to mobile phone users by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) elapse.
Many Nigerians could not afford any rest during the Christmas and New Year celebration for the sake of linking their phone numbers to their National Identity Number (NIN) to avoid disconnection from their network providers.
Some Nigerians, especially applicants in Alausa, Lagos office of the Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC), leave their houses as early as 4:00 am to pick queue numbers to be registered for their NIN when NIMC officials resume duty by 9:00 am.
Hundreds of applicants on Thursday were locked outside NIMC premises in Lagos after the staff downed tools over the non-provision of welfare packages and exposure to COVID-19.
President of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NIMC branch, Lucky Michael, and its Secretary, Odia Victor in a notice directed the staff of the government agency to commence strike action.
“Consequent upon the just concluded congress of the above-mentioned association that took place on January 6, 2020, the unit executive directs all members of grade level 12 and below in the head office and state offices to report to their respective duty posts tomorrow January 7, 2020, and do nothing,” Micheal and Victor said in the notice.
“All members at the local government offices and special centres are advised to stay away from their various centres as a task force and implementation committees would be on parade to ensure total compliance with the directive.”
NCC in December 2020 gave a two-week ultimatum to telecom service providers to block phone numbers without NIN.
The directive has since sparked an outrage amongst Nigerians who argue that government agencies can retrieve their information on other data platforms to update their sim card registration.
Currently, only 41.5 million Nigerians have their sim cards linked with their NIN, according to data on NIMC website as of January 2020. Consequently, over 100 million Nigerians are yet to fulfill the requirement from the Nigerian government.
Failure to link their sim cards to NIN by Tuesday, February 9, will result in disconnection of their phone lines, according to the directive by NCC. Tele coms operators who do not disconnect such phone numbers also risk revocation of their operational license.
With millions of Nigerians aspiring to fulfill the requirement, the registration centres have been overcrowded – in violation of COVID-19 protocol of social distancing – while Nigeria continues to experience a spike in daily COVID-19 figures.
The staff union said some NIMC officials have tested positive to the virus and will not risk losing any of their members of the pandemic because “safety of staff should be prioritised.”
“Staff members were infected with COVID-19 and adequate measures have not been taken to curtail the spread,” the union said.
They also want the “NIMC staff salary structure approved by the Federal Government vide Presidential assent be implemented in the personnel appropriation of the 2021 annual budget effective January 2021.
“That the lopsided and irregular promotion done in 2017 and 2020 be reviewed, regularised and gazetted in accordance with public service rules.”
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