With the deadline for NIN/SIM linkage fast approaching, fear and Anxiety have gripped millions of Nigerians as National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) workers embarked on nationwide indefinite strike.
The notice of strike which was signed by the President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NIMC branch, Lucky Asekokhai, and its Secretary, Odia Victor directed all members from grade level 12 and below in the head office and state offices to report to their respective duty posts today January 7, 2020 and do nothing.
While members at the local government offices and special centres are advised to stay away from their various centres as the association’s task force and implementation committees would be on parade to ensure total compliance to the directive.
In the same vein, the Chairman also revealed that three of the workers were being isolated at the THISDAY Dome isolation centre in Abuja.
The Federal Government through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami had in few weeks back directed telcos to shut down SIM cards yet to be linked to the National Identification Number (NIN).
However, FG extended the synchronisation of SIM Cards with the National Identity Number (NIN) to February 9, 2021 for mobile subscribers without NIN while January 19, 2021 is for subscribers with NIN.
As a result of this, millions of Nigerians have since crowded different NIMC enrolment centres around the country.
The Head of Corporate Communications, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke this week disclosed to The Guardian, that only 50 million Nigerians have their national identification number each.
Earlier report from MTN Nigeria also confirmed that only 8 million subscribers have submitted their NIN with the telecoms company.
It is to be noted that recent statistics from the telecommunications regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) placed connected mobile numbers at 286.5 million (286,522,926) for the month of July 2020, while active telecoms subscribers base reached 199,307,796 for the same period.
This further confirmed that currently, over 100 million Nigerians are yet to do so which has caused huge crowds to gather at the various offices of NIMC in breach of the COVID-19 protocol.
According to a communiqué issued at the end of the congress meeting of the ACCSN, NIMC branch, the strike had become necessary due to the exposure of staff to COVID-19 risks, lack of personal protective equipment, irregularities in promotion and poor funding.
They also asked to be paid overtime and given enough tools to work with.
The congress noted that, “Staff members were infected with COVID-19 and adequate measures have not been taken to curtail the spread. The meeting resolved that safety of staff should be prioritised. Furthermore the office environment should be fumigated immediately.
“The congress agreed that the NIMC staff salary structure approved by the Federal Government vide Presidential assent be implemented in the personnel appropriation of the 2021 annual budget effective January 2021.
“That the lopsided and irregular promotion done in 2017 and 2020 be reviewed, regularised and gazetted in accordance with public service rules.”
Speaking on this, one of the workers explained that the staff of the agency took the decision to go on strike to demand better welfare packages from the government.
According to him, the recent increase in the number of visitors at the office for registration of National Identification Number (NIN) has caused a lot of stress for the workers.
He added that the workers needed to be paid more for conducting the exercise which he described as an extra duty.
Despite the development, the residents have failed to return to their homes, saying they were not notified that the workers would down tools, leaving many stranded including elderly, pregnant women, and office workers.
Others have equally complained that the directive came at the wrong time leaving many with fears, worries and anxiety during the end of year break and festive period.