Six days to the end of the February 9 deadline issued by the National Communications Commission (NCC) for all mobile subscribers to link their National Identification Number (NIN) to their mobile lines, some Nigerians are yet to be registered and are not sure of getting it done before the deadline.
With the directive by the NCC, Nigerians were directed to have their biometrics captured by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). After the capturing, they would be issued with a unique eleven-digit number which should be sent to their network providers to link with their mobile numbers.
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The idea of capturing the data of Nigerians is to reduce insecurity, according to officials. The process is simple but tedious due to inadequate registration centres, lack of enough capturing equipment, poor awareness, the proximity of the registration centres, and the risk of contracting coronavirus due to flouting of safety protocols.
While Nigerians in urban cities still struggle with the registration, millions of Nigerians in rural areas risk disconnection as they are yet to register due to lack of awareness and inadequate facilities.
Hussaini Umar is a community leader at Udawa town in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna along Kaduna -Birnin Gwari highway. He said his people are not even aware of the NIN and the deadline issued by the government.
“We in this part of the state are not aware of the NIN issue because we do not even have a NIMC centre in the community due to insecurity in our area. Our main concern here is how the government can address the banditry and kidnappings happening here not NIN,” he said.
He urged the government to send NIMC staff to the community so that people can get registered because as it is now, nobody will risk his life to ply the Birnin Gwari highway to Kaduna because of NIN.
He described the road to their community as a “danger zone.”
Another resident of Kidandan in Giwa Local Government Area of the state, Jamilu Kidandan, said though they are aware of the NIN but there is no centre in the village.
He explained that the few villagers who got their NIN usually travel to Zaria to get enrolled.
“We are many here but only two out of 10 people have gotten their NIN and they travelled to Zaria to register. Honestly, for now, we need more time because the majority of our neighbouring villages do not even know how to get it as well as where to go and get registered,” he said.
He appealed to the government to extend the deadline and also to send NIMC staff to educate people in the villages on the importance of acquiring the NIN.
Cross River state
Some rural residents in Cross Rivers State expressed their frustration at the agency. They said there are very few centres for them to be captured. Millions of people, in the hinterlands, are yet to be registered.
Some expressed sadness that the elderly people in the villages cannot withstand the stress of going to the few centres in the towns.
Mr Simon Effiong, 35, said, “I come to the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star compound in Calabar every day but the crowd here is something else. There are about 10,000 people here every day. It is frustrating.
“During election, they usually ensure that voters don’t move out of their wards or polling units. They should ensure that centres are created in the villages for elderly, rural folks. They cannot withstand the stress in the township,” he said.
While NIN registration is going on well in Anambra, many people claimed not have registered due to the distance to the registration centres.
Mr. Okeke Nnoruka from Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area of the state said he was yet to be captured due to the unavailability of centres in his locality.
He said moving from the community to the city costs a fortune, adding that those that are willing to embark on the trip are not well informed on the location of the registration centres.
He pleaded with authorities to move registration centres closer to those in rural areas to enable them register before the closing date.
Mrs Ngozika Chinwuba from Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area, said most people in the agrarian community have heard about the information while some are not aware of the registration.
Chinwuba said many people in the community may still not meet up with deadline because they do not know where to do the registration, adding that a few people, who were captured, paid officials to get it done.
Chinwuba called on the authorities to use town crier to pass the information around and also make registration centres available in those areas.
At one of the enrolment centres in Tofa Local Government Area in Kano State, residents said they have spent days at the centre and still unable to be registered.
Lami Muhammad, 53, said she thought the extension would enable her to be captured but she was wrong as the centre was filled up with people limiting her chances of being captured.
She said she could not endure the queue anymore due to her poor health, “I will give my son to link up my line with his NIN,” she said.
Balarabe Yusuf Gajida, a resident of Tofa Local Government Area, said the situation is getting out of hand as the enrolment centres are not working fast enough to address the issue.
He said before, people in the rural areas had no difficulties with the registration but now it has changed with the coming of new policy of linking the NIN with SIM cards.
“Before, people from the city come here to do their registrations as their centres there are filled with people. But now it has changed, people here in the village are also struggling to get their NIN because they cannot afford getting their SIM cards blocked.”
A staff of Tofa Local Government NIN enrolment centre, who pleaded anonymity, said printer and network issues affect their performances since they are in a remote area.
He said if the government did not tackle the challenges that cause delay in the enrolment process, the deadline given may have to be extended, adding that many people cannot get their NIN within this short period.
In Plateau State, many residents, both from the hinterland or those residing in Jos city, have been lamenting the stress and difficulty associated with the registration exercise. Some are not even aware of the deadline and the phone line disconnection upon the expiry of the deadline.
A resident of Kufang, who sells at the mini Plaza along Miango road, Fabian Esther Rottiem, said she is discouraged and has never visited the NIMC office for registration owing to the sad tales and challenges she kept hearing from those who have gone.
On whether she was aware of the deadline and its implication on mobile line usage, she said she only heard it from someone but did not give it enough consideration to inspire her to go for the registration.
She called on the government to give ample time for the registration. But above all, she wants the government to decentralize the registration centres and make them more available in many nooks and crannies, especially since there would be consequences for those who are not registered and the government wants people to get registered within a timeframe.
On her part, Asabe Magaji from Itsistsa Village of Jos East said she was yet to register because of the distance from her village to their office in Jos.
“When I went for the enrolment, the queue was too long and I spent the day without food. I am calling on government to create more centres in our local governments and villages so that we can do it there. As I’m talking to you, many people in the village have not done it and many of them said they are not aware of the registration, neither are they aware of the phone line disconnection associated with it,” she said.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami in December 2020 announced that it was compulsory for all Nigerians to link their SIM cards to their NIN. Since December 16, the deadline for registration and linkage had been extended with February 9 the latest deadline.
The government had said between December 15 2020 and January 19, 2021, mobile operators received 47.8 million NIN submissions with over 100 million SIM cards identifiable to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).