THERE was a big rush in major cities on Monday to obtain the National Identity Number (NIN) at National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) offices.
NIN is required for a telephone subscriber to sustain his line, following the directive by the government.
However, the December 31 deadline has been extended till January 19 for subscribers who have their NIN and February 9, for those yet to obtain their NIN.
Monday’s extension of the deadline was approved at a meeting of stakeholders with Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Pantami.
The huge crowd of would-be NIN enrollers was noticed at the NIMC offices in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan.
Those at the Lagos office of the commission had their hope dashed when the NIMC shut its doors after initially attending to them.
When our correspondent visited the NIMC office at Alausa, Ikeja, many people expressed frustration and bitterness because many of them left their homes very early hoping to get the registration done.
This huge gathering was at a time the country is battling the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak. It was observed that most of the people breached COVID-19 protocols.
Many didn’t wear face masks; some others failed to maintain social distance.
One of them, who gave his name simply as Ayodeji, said he read about the directive of the NCC to deactivate telephone numbers without NIN in the newspapers.
“I live in Aayetoro, Ogun State and got here at 4.30 a.m. I was shocked with the sea of human heads I saw. I felt like running back to Shoprite bus stop. I decided to brave the odds and got number 153.
An 85-year-old man, Fatai Akinbile, who was at the NIMC office to correct his date of birth, expressed how bitter he felt with the entire process.
”I came from Ajah, left the house very early. The issue is they wrote 1953 as my date of birth instead of 1935. I have made attempts to correct it and they referred me to Ikeja,” he said.
A female teenage prospective enrolee said: “They chased us away threatening to invite policemen if we refused to go. You know NIMC shares these premises with officers and men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Besides that, this place is very close to Alausa, the seat of government. I am sure the CCTV in Alausa will be monitoring everything happening here. That notwithstanding, policemen arrived shortly,” she said.
It was gathered that the Commission shut down abruptly after distributing forms to some of them, saying they got an order from Abuja to do so.
A statement by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umar Danbatta and NIMC Director-General Aliyu Abdulaziz noted that the National Task Force on National Identity agreed that the deadline be extended.
The statement reads: “National Task Force on National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM Registration met today, 21st December, 2020. The meeting was chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) with major stakeholders in the sector including Chairman-NCC, EVC-NCC, DG-NITDA, DG-NIMC, ECTS/ECSM-NCC, Chairman ALTON, CEOs of MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Glo, Smile, and 9Moble in attendance.
“Based on the endorsement of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the following resolutions were made:
“Three (3) weeks extension for subscribers with NIN from 30th December, 2020 to 19th January, 2021.
“Six (6) weeks extension for subscribers without NIN from 30th December, 2020 to 9th February, 2021.
“NIMC has provided strategies to enable citizens attend the registration in full compliance with Covid-19 protocols – particularly the use of facemasks which remains mandatory and maintenance of social distancing.
“The President appreciates Nigerians for their patience and commitment to update their Identities; The Federal Government also thanks all stakeholders for their compliance with the directives.
“Mr. President has also commended the efforts of the Task Force and urges all stakeholders to take advantage of the extension to link their SIM card with their NIN. USSD and verification charges remain suspended during these extensions.”
By Lucas Ajanaku