NIN: Isa Pantami and insensitiveness to COVID-19

Sometimes what you need is hope. A belief that things are going to get better. Sometimes you get that belief from a change of circumstance or trust in the people acting on your behalf. 2020 was a tough year and the yearning for a much better 2012 is quite strong and was helped by the news of the Covid19 vaccines created and distributed around the world. The emergence of a second wave of COVID-19 as a result of mutations and people’s laxity in keeping with restrictions on interaction have dampened this hope a little.

Some other countries have chosen to return to lockdowns with the intention of mitigating infection rates until vaccines are fully released to their populace. Some have elected to stay open and enforce mask-use.

Nigeria has emphasized its commitment to mask-use regulations and started mulling the use of lockdowns. And in the midst of all these, someone called Isa Ali Pantami who for some godforsaken reason happens to be the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy decided that it would be a sensible idea to give a nation of almost 200 million people with roughly 180 million phone lines four weeks to register these phone lines in person at government agency offices not set up to take more than 200 guests.

Sometimes you just get the impression that these people sit down and ponder on ways to show Nigerians that Satan is real.

Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases have continued to rise with the country getting over 100,000 people testing positive for the virus and over 1,300 deaths being recorded. Nigeria’s healthcare system is atrocious as is and is losing doctors and nurses at an alarming rate but a Minister has decided that it would be a good idea to create Covid19 super-spreader events in all of Nigeria’s 774 local government areas for what he says are security reasons. He must be trying to secure the job of the Grim Reaper and even get him a promotion.

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Apparently, it is not bad enough that the Buhari administration is spectacularly incompetent. They also seem to function in watertight silos and don’t even communicate with each other because the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has said that these Covid19 Ogbonge Bonanza Promo disguised as a National Identification Number (NIN) enrollment is likely to be suspended because of the risks associated with large crowds gathering at venues for almost 12 hours 5days a week.

Mamora is also a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and has made it clear that it is quite disconcerting to see huge crowds of people at the offices of the National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC).

For some reasons Isa Pantami not only couldn’t find it in himself to understand this simple and painfully obvious detail. He has also refused to let the NIN generated by the Bank Verification Number(BVN) exercise be used to verify its owners. This singular action could have taken tens of millions of people off the workload and made it easier.

But “Easier” is not what we do in Nigeria. Nah, we might actually explode and die if we do the right things that bring efficiency and ease of use. The last time we were unfortunate enough to hear from the minister, he said the National Identification Number (NIN) registration process would be adjusted if the Federal Government puts in place a fresh lockdown to check the second Covid19 wave. This would be the same wave that he’s actively fanning with his policies.

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The truth is that regardless of if they impose a lockdown or not, they are not going to get over 100 million people to complete this process in a month so they should be ready to block over 100 million phone lines and shut down Nigeria.


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