The federal government may suspend the ongoing enrolment for National Identification Number (NIN). in view of the large crowds at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) offices in many states.
The decision became necessary to protect Nigerians from COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision comes after the government also threatened to shut down the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna train services if any case of the pandemic is detected among passengers.
The NIN registration resumed nationwide yesterday after NIMC workers suspended the strike they commenced on Thursday over poor welfare package, lack of tools and risk of exposure to COVID-19.
But speaking on a live TV programme yesterday, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the ongoing NIN enrolment may be suspended over COVID-19 risks.
He also charged the NIMC to go back to the drawing board and re-order the enrolment process to avoid large crowds at its centres nationwide.
The minister, who is also a member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, led by the Secretary to the Government to the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the government has a duty to protect Nigerians.
“I don’t feel good looking at the picture where people 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 may 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.
“We 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 added.
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) had ordered telecommunications companies to deactivate telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their phones to their NINs.
It also gave subscribers with NINs till January 19 to link their NINs with their SIM cards while subscribers without NINs have February 9 deadline.
Besides the federal government has threatened to shut down the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna train services if any case of the pandemic is detected among passengers.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had in December 2020 commenced operations of the 156km Lagos-Ibadan railway, a standard gauge rail.
Speaking on a separate live television programme yesterday, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said train passengers must comply with all COVID-19 protocols during their trip.
“If we see that we are conveying passengers who have COVID-19 from Lagos to Ibadan and Ibadan to Lagos, we will stop it just like we are threatened to stop the one from Kaduna to Abuja if people don’t comply with the COVID-19 protocols.
“Don’t forget that on Kaduna-Abuja, we convey 4,000 passengers in a day. Imagine that about 20 per cent have COVID-19, they can transmit COVID-19 to the entire passengers. The rate of transmission will be high. The same is applicable to Lagos. Everybody must comply with the COVID-19 protocols, wear your masks till the end of the journey,” he said.
The minister added that the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, which will be completed this month, will be inaugurated virtually by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Scare over the pandemic has also prompted the NDLEA to suspend the ongoing screening of applicants for recruitment.