The Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers has asked the government to stop exposing Nigerians to the risk of losing their lives all in the name of getting National Identity Numbers and linking it to their SIM cards.
The subscriber association said the insistence of the government on the February 9 deadline for the full linkage of National Identification Numbers had led to human deluge at various NIN registration centres in the country.
ATCIS demanded that the government should stop exposing subscribers to ‘what could trigger a disaster beyond the control of the authorities’ by relaxing the deadline, and extending it by another six months.
The association’s president, Sina Bilesanmi, in a statement on Sunday, accused the government of forcing subscribers to fight for their SIMs, while in the process getting their lives endangered due to COVID-19 risks.
He said, “The concern of the association becomes imperative in the light of growing cases of COVID-19 pandemic in the country and the sad loss of lives recorded on daily basis to the disease.
“Since the government has made an irrational decision to disconnect all telephone subscribers without NIN on the stipulated deadline, ATCIS has observed from its visitations to different state centres of the NIMC that the centres had become a breeding ground to COVID-19.”
The ATCIS president charged the government to do better and abolish the fear around NIN-SIM linkage by extending the deadline by six months to avoid losing the gains of the exercise to a COVID-19 explosion.
He noted that a possible explosion in coronavirus cases was more life threatening than a SIM without a NIN.
Bilesanmi stated, “We find it rather absurd for the government to insist on ‘NINing’ of all subscribers within such an unrealistic deadline, given that NIMC had only managed to issue about 43 million NINs even with about 14-year hard work.
“Does the minister really want subscribers to sacrifice their lives to retain their telephone lines? We wonder!”
Bilesanmi also encouraged subscribers to be responsible by observing COVID-19 preventive protocols and urged the 106.2 million subscribers yet to be linked to submit their NINs.
Likewise, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria advised telecom subscribers to take advantage of the deadline extension for subscribers with NIN to link it to their SIM registration data from 19th January to 9th February 2021.
“We urge all telecom subscribers who have a NIN to link it to their SIM cards through available channels as soon as possible. Those yet to enroll are advised to visit the National Identity Management Commission website for a list of enrolment centres close to them,” ALTON said.
The telecom association appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for giving them more time to deliver on creating a credible national identity database for the country.