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Nigerians, telcos, govt agencies stranded as NIMC glitch enters eighth day

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Telecommunication subscribers have continued to lament their inability to retrieve lost Subscriber Identity Module or get new ones as National Identity Management Commission’s portal downtime extends to its ninth day.

Since last week thousands of telecom subscribers nationwide seeking to retrieve their lost SIM cards or acquire new lines could not do so due to a technical glitch in the NIMC’s National Identity Management portal that has grounded SIM-related services.

This portal enables telecom firms, the Nigerian Immigration Service, banks, and other organisations to verify the National Identity Number of their customers before attending to them, in line with the Federal Government’s directive.

The hitch affecting the NIMC’s NIN portal was caused by a technical problem with the Hosting Service Platform of Galaxy Backbone Limited, a Federal Government agency that provides Information and Communications Technology services.

Since the glitch began, NIMC has advised telcos to adopt its digital tokenisation and USSD system to verify subscribers. However, telcos have continued to lament that this process is slow, and isn’t all encompassing.

However, a senior official at an MTN outlet in Lagos said the recommended alternative, which is the vNIN platform, was not accessible (as of Tuesday evening).

She said repeated attempts to use the platform has only produced error messages and that the feedback would duly be communicated to the NIMC for the purpose of straightening out the kinks on the platform.

She said, “Apparently you’re supposed to dial 3463NINenterprise code# to get your vNIN but I tried it and it’s not working. They said you can try it on any line as long as you have your NIN number. It keeps saying service timeout.

“So you can’t even generate the vNIN. If you try downloading the app, OTP is not dropping. They’re asking us to test run, look at the issues and get back to them so they can have something to NIMC.

“There are two ways you can get your virtual NIN. It’s either you use the USSD code, which has not been working since morning or you download the app. The thing with the USSD code is that you cannot dial it with a number you did not register the NIN with, but if you download the mobile app, at the point of downloading it will send OTP (one time password) to your line so that you can input it at the point of registering on the app. The OTP is not dropping. These are what we were asked to test run and see how it goes.”

A top official of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria disclosed that the technical teams of telecom companies and NIMC have been meeting ever day. The source added that the app NIMC was canvassing for has issues.

The source said, “There was no special meeting today. The technical teams on both sides meet every day. Since the beginning of SIM-NIN harmonisation, we’ve been having daily meetings on both sides.

“Every day, there is a regular meeting between telecoms and the NIMC. At the meeting issues of verification, registration, any issue at all, and challenges. I didn’t join them today. I am a member of that meeting, but I had other meetings to attend to. But we have people who attend the daily regular meetings. We have a platform, for this meeting.

“NIMC is canvassing for the use of the app in the interim. There are some issues with the app, but the NIMC is trying to make it work.”

Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the marketing manager of Galaxy Backbone, Mr Chidi Okpala, priority classification has been assigned in an effort to resolve the lingering technical difficulties that has grounded the activities of some of its customers across the country.

He said, “The management of Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) regrets the temporary outage of some of its services and the inconvenience being experienced by some of its customers across the country.

“Across the organisation, the highest priority classification has been assigned and all hands are on deck to ensure resolution is achieved within the shortest possible time.

“At the time of this press statement, GBB has put together a highly skilled technical team of experienced Engineers and Applications experts to not just solve this current issue but put in place all the necessary structures to ensure that such an incident never occurs again in the future. While a good number of the services have been restored, efforts are being made to restore all the other services of its customers.

“In the meantime, and since this incident occurred, GBB has continued to notify and reach out to all its valued customers and will continue to do so to provide the necessary updates required until all the services affected are completely restored.”

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WHO issues fresh COVID-19 alert

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned countries that COVID-19 is not over.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said the reports of the decline in cases and deaths do not mean the end of the pandemic

Ghebreyesus spoke on Sunday in Geneva at the opening of the World Health Assembly.

The Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, has 194 member-countries.

At the meeting, the first in-person since 2019, Ghebreyesus advised health ministers not to relax.

“Is COVID-19 over? No. I know that’s not the message you want to hear, and it’s definitely not the message I want to deliver,” he said.

The DG expressed concern about increasing cases in nearly 70 countries in all regions with testing rates reduced.

Ghebreyesus added that reported deaths are also rising in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage.

“It’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere. Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70 per cent of their population, almost all of them high-income countries,” he noted.

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Nnamdi Kanu’s US lawyer, Bruce Fein challenges Buhari’s minister to public debate

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Bruce Fein, a United States, US, lawyer of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has challenged the Nigerian Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami to a debate.

Fein challenged Malami to a debate on a national television over the legal right of the South-East to agitate for Biafra.

In a series of tweets, the US attorney said Malami would have accepted defeat if he turned down the challenge.

According to Fein: “I challenge Attorney General Malami or his designee to debate me on Nigerian television. Topic: The legal right of Biafrans to self-determination.

“My opponent can use two words to every one of mine. Malami concedes defeat if he scampers away from my challenge.”

Kanu is being held in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS.

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2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari would this week meet with all the preidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting was called with a view to reducing the number of presidential hopefuls and also ensuring that all of them pledge to accept the outcome of the primary as was done during the APC presidential primary in 2014.

“The President will meet with the aspirants a few days to the primary with a view to ensuring that there is unity and harmony. He will also meet with the governors separately. The date is not fixed yet, but it should be this week if INEC doesn’t extend the deadline for the primary as we are all hoping,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.

“The President has a candidate. How to present the idea to the likes of Tinubu will be the challenge,” he added.

Buhari’s most senior spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, had said last week that the President indeed had a preferred candidate.

He stated, “In a previous interview when the President was asked whether he had a favourite candidate, he answered yes; but he will not mention him because mischief may happen to that person.

“That shows you that the President himself is interested in the process and he has a preferred candidate; but whether he will impose his candidate is what you cannot determine at the moment.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he was not aware of any meeting the President would be having with the aspirants.

“I am not aware of any meeting as of now,” he said.

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