With the February 9 deadline for NIN-SIM linkage fast approaching and as droves of people continue to show up at NIMC offices nationwide to beat the deadline, Nigerians have tagged the NIN registration process a failure
According to the NCC, about 143 million of 207 million active SIM cards have been linked to NIN at an average of three SIMs per subscriber. This leaves up to 21 million mobile subscribers without NIN-SIM linkage.
Recall that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had ordered telecom operators to block SIMs not registered with NIN by December 30. Complaints by several Nigerians then led to an extension of the deadline to February 9.
The imminent deadline has driven large crowds of subscribers to NIN enrolment centres across the country in order to avoid losing their mobile connections. With cases of COVID-19 rising by the day, the heavy congestion of NIMC offices amid the second wave is proof that the registration process has been a flop.
COVI-19 Concerns, SMEs at Risk
Many social media users using the hashtag #NINRegistrationFlop has been used to engage with the exercise, describing the NIN registration process as completely counter-productive to the government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The new COVID-19 legislation signed by President Buhari which stipulates a jail term and/or fine for those who breach safety protocols has done little to prevent the mass gatherings at NIMC centres, where people are clustered and many do not even wear a face mask. The concern is that this could trigger a spike in COVID-19 infections across the country.
While the NIMC mobile app allows subscribers to link their NIN to SIM, it does not enable NIN registration, which is the main reason for the crowd congestion at enrolment centres.
Although telcos such as MTN and Airtel have reportedly commenced NIN registration at a few selected retail outlets, it is long overdue and has definitely not depopulated the crowds at NIMC offices.
Moreover, a Twitter user, Tise noted that a number of mobile subscribers who have submitted their NINs have not been given a status feedback by telcos to confirm the successful linkage.
This could cause an outrage if such subscribers’ SIMs end up being blocked.
Some people also highlighted how the proposed deactivation of SIMs by the NCC would cripple a lot of small businesses in the country. Several SMEs run their businesses using digital and social media platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp.
Without a mobile network connection, small business owners would not be able to easily access these tech services as before.
The economic consequences of a failed registration process are humongous. Most SMEs and growing businesses depend on their telephone to carry out their businesses so deactivation of SIM will adversely affect their businesses. #NINRegistrationFlopAyo_olah on Twitter.
Nigeria’s fast-growing mobile industry has created many opportunities for entrepreneurs and is a key driver of many businesses in the country. That said, it remains to be seen whether the NCC would go on to block SIMs or extend the February 9 deadline.
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