About two million Nigerian youths have been rendered jobless by the recent suspension of sale, registration and activation of SIM Cards by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
Arewa Telecom Operators Agents and Simcard Dealers Association (ATOASDA), made the claim while addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Monday.
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The Telecom dealers who noted that, they were aware of the Federal Government’s intention to address security challenges through linkage of National Identity Number NIN with mobile numbers and suspension of new Sim cards registration, they fear that, rendering two million youths jobless might worsen the security challenges.
Speaking on behalf of the dealers, its President, Hassan Yakubu said, “as a registered association under corporate affairs commission of the federal republic of Nigeria with registration number CAC/IT/NO131761 and with Nigeria communications commission volume number as NCC/CAB/2019/VOL.1/011, we are fully in support of FG measures to protect the lives and properties of the citizenry.
He however observed that, the federal government must thread carefully considering that all available research works on the causes of insecurity across the country have been linked primarily to youth unemployment.
He said that, the income of the telecoms business partners, staff and the agents, majority of whom are within the age bracket 20 to 40 years in the value chain is determined by the number of activations /SIM registration carried out within the month.
According to Yakubu, “the suspension of SIM card registration may trigger another worse form of insecurity especially in zones most affected by the insecurity, in fact, the growth in the Telecom sector is determined by the very sub-sector that was suspended and the much celebrated 17% contribution by Telecom sector on the GDP was as a result of the activities of the sub-sector under suspension.
“We therefore wish to advise that, the federal government can still achieve the desired result as well as avoid creating more problems in an attempt to solve a problem if the suspension is revised immediately to avoid the danger the suspension may expose the youth.
“We suggest that, all existing SIM Cards must be paired with the NIN numbers within a stipulated time, while an average of three months should be allowed for smooth and effective pairing.
“We also suggest that, the SIM Cards sale, registrations and activations should be allowed to continue, while an average of 10 new NIN machines be deployed in every local government in the 774 local governments of the federation for a better reach.
“That no new SIM Card should be allowed to synchronize without the support of NIN number and ID card until the SIM Card and NIN number pairing is concluded,” he said.
Suspension of new registration
Due to rising insecurity in the country, the Federal Government had directed NCC to suspend activation of new SIM cards so as to allow an audit of the Subscriber Registration database and to also verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators (MNO) with the set quality standards and requirements as issued by the ministry and the commission.
Unlimited access to pre-registered SIM cards have always aided criminals to perpetrate and get away with their acts of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and terrorism.
In recent weeks, cases of kidnapping, banditry, and insurgency heightened in parts of the country.
Recent cases include the Zabarmari massacre in Borno State where over 40 farmers had their throat slit and the abduction of hundreds of schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State.