As the deadline for the deactivation of phone lines approaches, individuals applying for National Identity Numbers (NIN) are once again flocking to the offices of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The situation is exacerbated by the influx of students applying for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Examinations (JAMB) this year.
Also, the abrupt deactivation or blocking of some subscribers’ phone lines by telecommunications companies earlier in the week has generated confusion and anxiety regarding the linkage of NIN with Subscribers’ Identity Modules (SIM), in response to the deadline set by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) late last year.
It was observed that the NIMC offices at Wuse Zone 2 and 5 in Abuja and the one in Gwagwalada have been taken over by a large crowd of applicants who are desperate to beat the deadline.
Our correspondent also learnt that the sudden barring of some subscribers’ phone lines by telecom companies has created panic across various networks as those who already linked their NIN with SIM were affected.
Apart from fresh applicants for NIN, some wanted to make corrections on their birthdays and those who wanted to add or drop some of their names. NIMC personnel who are obviously overwhelmed by the surge in the number of applicants have resorted to booking all applicants for upwards of two weeks to enable them to sort out the situation.
The present Director-General of NIMC, Mrs Coker-Odusote, it was learnt, has started a comprehensive reorganisation of the Agency.
Some personnel are said to have been transferred to different locations to enable the new management to start its reforms on a clean slate.
However, there are concerns that NCC’s directive to Telcom operators in Nigeria, including MTN, Airtel, and Globacom and other carriers to implement full network barring on phone lines of subscribers would precipitate untold hardships for the citizens.
The NCC directive issued late last year was communicated to the MNOs. The MNOs also informed subscribers and urged them to submit their NINs and those without verified NINs should do so by February 28, 2024.
According to the NCC, NINs that had been submitted but not verified, such subscribers would have their lines barred on or before March 29, 2024, same as in cases where five or more lines are linked to an unverified NIN.
It was also gathered that where less than five lines are linked to an unverified NIN such lines are to be barred on or before April 15, 2024.
Mal Ibrahim Abubakar who brought his daughter to the NIMC Headquarters to obtain NIN for JAMB lamented that policymakers have a way of punishing ordinary Nigerians by lumping policies and deadlines together in a manner that citizens would regret being called Nigerians.
He said he and his daughter had been going all around Abuja to fulfil the conditions attached to obtaining the NIN.
He said they have been given two weeks to return to NIMC for data capturing after fulfilling the conditions.
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