The latest NCC directive is thoughtless and will only end in tears


One of the many questions Nigerians are asking following the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announcement, instructing all network providers to disconnect SIMs not updated with a valid National Identification Number (NIN) by December 30 is, “is there actual thought put into coming up with policies and implementation by the current administration or is it just vibes and wickedness?”

In the communique released by the NCC, the commission announced that the decision was arrived at after exhaustive discussions with all stakeholders, in a meeting convened by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami. How ‘exhaustive’ these ‘discussions’ were is clear from the million-plus holes Nigerians have poked in the logic – or better yet lack thereof, behind the decision by the NCC.

SIM card registrations have been done for years using valid identification means like the National Identification Card that bears the NIN and International Passports.

NIN registration across the country has been slow for years, with countless Nigerians complaining for just as long about the difficulty in even getting access to the registration centres, not to speak of the lengthy wait to get the temporary card.

As it stands, just over 42 of 200+ million Nigerians have acquired the NIN. By contrast, as at December 2018, over 190 million SIM cards are active on NCC data base. The sector has continued to grow consistently where many other sectors of the economy see continuing stagnation.

Twitter user @nonso2 highlighted this economic self-sabotage when he tweeted to lament that the country is attacking the only major sector that has seen consistent growth in the last five years with this ill-thought-out policy.

It is almost iron-clad to say that Nigeria lacks the capacity to register the remaining over 150 million unregistered citizens on the NIN database. A similar rushed policy exposed this lack of capacity earlier this year. 

Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, who rushed a policy that required UTME registration to be via NIN had to shift the policy to next year when parents, guardians and students faced bottlenecks in registering first for the NIN and then for JAMB. It was impossible on such short notice.

Very little has been done since then to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Identity Management Commission, NIMC, to deliver.

There is no logical explanation that can stand scrutiny and stick for the controversial policy.

The insinuation by @mimielaushi about the possibility that NIMC had a deadline it didn’t honour and is now putting the burden of the cost of that irresponsibility on Nigerians is highly likely. It might also be a knee-jerk reaction in response to increased scrutiny from Nigerians over the seeming inability by NIMC to track kidnappers terrorising Northern Nigeria when the same commission can track peaceful #EndSARS protesters and journalists.

Whatever the reason, the outcome is increased hardship for law-abiding Nigerians who will be forced in the middle of a global pandemic to start trooping to NIN registration centres that will frustrate them to near insanity, until whoever is in charge decides to do an about turn when it finally sinks in that this is a thoughtless policy that was only ever going to end in tears for the masses.

As Ayo Sogunro noted:

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