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NIMC staff strike cripples NIN registration

Most of the NIMC offices across the states have been locked by the striking workers.

A two-day warning strike embarked upon by the staff of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has grounded the enrolment of millions of Nigerians.

Most of the NIMC offices across the states have been locked by the striking workers who were asking for better working condition amidst the spread of coronavirus.

The Commission’s staff below Grade Level 12 began the warning strike on Thursday to demand adequate safety measures.

They also demanded a new salary structure.

Millions of Nigerians are struggling to get their National Identification Number (NIN), which will allow them properly register their SIM cards to beat the February deadline.

Unless the federal government extends the deadline, many GSM subscribers would lose their numbers.

The chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), NIMC unit, Asekokhai Lucky Michael, and the unit’s secretary, Odia Victor, said in a notice that their demands were necessitated by the dangers they were exposed to following the scramble for registration by millions of Nigerians.

The association, therefore, advised all its members in the state and local government offices and special centres to stay away from work until their demands were met.

It said a task force and implementation committee would be on ground to ensure compliance.

Enrollees stranded

In compliance with the directive, Daily Trust observed on Thursday, the centres of the commission in many states were locked.

A staff of the commission at one of the centres located in Rigasa, Kaduna, said they had dispersed enrollees at the centre.

“We asked all the residents that came to register to go back home because we were asked to stop the registration since the people are complaining of extortions and our headquarters seems not ready to fund the work,” he said.

Similarly, the centres within the NIMC state Head office located along Bayajidda by Inuwa Wada Road, Malali, were also locked.

Few people were seen knocking at the gate but there was no one to attend to them.

In Bayelsa State, there was a protest in Yenagoa with Mr Paul Soroh, a union leader, saying while they worked under pressure to enable Nigerians to get their NIN for onward connection to their SIM cards, the federal government failed to provide necessary tools for them to function effectively.

He said the workers had no personal protection equipment even though they were listed as essential workers during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“As you know, workers on level 12 downwards are not supposed to be at work but we came out to do this work voluntarily; but because of the attitude of the government, we are withdrawing our voluntary services until something is done about it,” he said.

In Kano, Daily Trust discovered that the strike halted the registration process at state headquarters of NIMC even though some centres in the metropolis offered skeletal service.

At the Unguwa Uku centre, some NIMC staff were seen registering applicants.

“I came for registration and I was enrolled after paying some amount of money”, one of the applicants alleged.

At Masallachin Murtala, some of the NIMC staff were in the office asking applicants to come back on Friday as their computer was faulty.

Some of the staff at the centre also said they were not aware of the ongoing strike but that the faulty computer stalled their operation.

In Abeokuta

NIN enrollees were stranded in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital over the strike.

At the state office at Oke Mosan, the environment was deserted with enrollees left stranded.

A student of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Sodiq Adeboye, said he had visited the centre more than three times without getting registered.

“This is my third time here. The government should intervene, the stress is too much.

“Maybe the process should be converted into online registration,” he said.

Addressing newsmen, the representative of ASCSN – NIMC Unit, Ogun Branch, Kuoye Lukman, said: “All the required PPEs have not been provided.

“Secondly, the management is not doing enough regarding equipment for the enrolment.

“Most of our systems are also obsolete coupled with paltry salaries that the workforce are being paid.

“Looking at the working environment, if you go into the ERC, there is no AC, no money for the fuelling of the generating set and they are complaining of extortion.

“We want the government to provide the equipment for the enrolment.

“None of our staff is interested in taking anything from anybody,” he said.

Commission apologises

Because of the apparent disruption in the enrolment process, the management of NIMC on its Twitter handle apologised for a perceived glitch in the process, assuring Nigerians that normalcy would be restored soon.

It said: “NIMC wishes to assure members of the general public that glitches experienced in the enrolment process are being resolved and normal enrolment would resume shortly.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and wish to assure you of our continued excellent service,” it noted.

2m people added since December

On the progress of registration so far, a top official revealed that two million Nigerians have been added to the country’s identity database.

The federal government had, in December 2020, issued a directive for the linkage of NIN to SIM cards as part of efforts to contain security breaches.

This has pushed the total number of Nigerians with NINs to 45 million, up from 43 million before the directive.

The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak, said the government might extend the NIN linkage to SIM till April 2021.

“This is to allow all Nigerians register because, from the look of things, the February deadline isn’t feasible”, the official told Daily Trust.

45m Nigerians enrolled

On his part, NIMC’s Director-General, Engineer Aliyu Aziz, said the commission was stepping up efforts to get all Nigerians captured in the identity database.

He disclosed this on Thursday on an African Independence Television (AIT) programme, Kakaaki.

Aliyu Aziz confirmed that so far the total enrolment stood at 45 million.

“This is up from seven million in 2015, 14 million in 2016, and 28 million in 2017,” he said.

Daily Trust reports that NIMC officials were silent on the ongoing strike.

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