The Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS) has urged the Federal government to suspend the ongoing NIN registration by telephone subscribers nationwide immediately.
Making the call while addressing newsmen in Lagos on Monday, the National President of ATCIS, Prince Sina Bilesanmi said the suspension becomes necessary as more Nigerians are on daily basis being exposed to the dangers of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic as they throng the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) offices in large numbers in their bids to beat the deadline for the registration.
ATCIS is an advocacy body promoting subscribers’ interests in Nigeria as well as defending their rights.
Decrying the manners in which lives of subscribers are being endangered, Bilesanmi said bearing in mind the second wave of the Covid-19 across the world, he has observed with sadness that at the NIMC centres across the country, there has continued to be presence of a large crowd with non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, especially social distancing.
“It is sad to note that most of the people, who gathered at the NIMC office in Alausa, were either not wearing face masks or not observing physical distancing, thereby flouting the protocol put in place by the government in a bid to tackle the spread of COVID-19 which has been on the increase in the last one week,” he said.
“There are better ways of going about these registrations. This is not the best time to do this do this if truly government loves the people it governs,” he said.
The ATCIS National President, who condemned the manner in which its members are being maltreated across Nigeria which later metamorphosed to strike action by staff of NIMC, said the government must apologise to Nigerians and subsequently suspend the registration.
According to him, it is a shame to any authority to have called out subscribers in this period of pandemic for any registration.
While urging the federal government to go back to the drawing board, the National President said yesterday made it a year ago that the ATCIS wrote the DG, NIMC for solution calling for stakeholders meeting and re-order the enrolment process to avoid large crowds at its centres nationwide.
Bilesanmi charged members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure Nigerians are protected at all times.
“I don’t feel good looking at the picture where members of ATCIS are gathered in multitude; it’s like a super spreader event which we don’t like. But I’m also aware that the relevant ministry which is the communications and digital economy is looking at this.
“My understanding is that the whole process must be suspended so as to reorder the whole process in terms of management of the crowd because it was never intended that it would become a rowdy process like that.”
“I think our rulers have a duty as government to ensure that people are protected; we also have a duty to ensure people comply within the limit of what is good for the society at large,” he said.
Speaking on the industrial action embarked upon last week by the NIMC staff, Bilesanmi said the association is solidly behind them as they were fighting for what was right.
The NIMC workers had embarked on strike last Thursday over exposure to COVID-19 risks, lack of personal protective equipment and poor funding. The workers, however, called off the industrial action some 24 hours later.
He said the staffs were fighting for their right and the necessary things they need the government or their agency to do for them.
The Federal Government through the Nigerian Communication Commission had ordered telecommunications companies to deactivate telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their phones to their National Identity Number. It also said telecoms subscribers with NIN have January 19 as deadline to link their NIN with their SIM cards while subscribers without NIN have until February 9 to do so.