From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
It is just like hell on earth for one to get the National Identity Management Commission’s (NIMC) National Identification Number (NIN) in Umuahia, the Abia State capital. About two weeks ago, two women came out of their office and were jubilating as if they were sweep stake winners. Not at all, their joy stemmed from the weeks of sufferings of trying to be enrolled and the realization of being finally registered by NIMC.
Such has been the case ever since the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Communications announced that all phone SIM-cards in operation in the country must be linked with NIN. Initially, when the exercise started late last year, it was carried out at the NIMC office at the Secretariat, Ogurube Layout, Umuahia. However, with time, the exercise was shifted to the United Bank for Africa (UBA) building along Bank Road. When the space at the bank could not contain the ever surging crowd, NIMC took the exercise to Heritage bank premises on Okpara Square. However, a near stampede situation that occurred in the area few weeks, forced NIMC back to their office where the state of affairs remain the same.
To say that people are suffering in Abia to be registered is to say the least. A woman who gave her name as Mrs. Comfort Igu narrated her experience thus, “I came here to be registered about two weeks ago, after staying under the sun for about six hours, we were asked to go and come back the next day. The following day I decided to come early so that I could be attended to on time, but to my surprise, at about 9 am, someone came out from the office to inform me if I wanted to be attended to, I should give them N2, 000 fuel money with which to power their generator set”. Mrs. Igu said she paid the money if that would end her suffering, but to her surprise, although she was enrolled that day, she was asked to come in two weeks time to collect the slip.
Another person, Okorie Egbuta gave the same sordid experience. He said for the past days he has been making efforts to get registered, but all to no avail. “For the past days, I have been coming here to be registered without success, but you will be on the queue and the well to dos in society will appear from nowhere and will be given immediate attention”. Egbuta called on the Federal Government to do something urgently to address the situation to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
In Aba, the story was not different. A girl of about 19, who claimed she came to assist the mother get her NIN registration and who refused to give her name, said she went for her own registration on January 14, but only received her NIN slip three weeks later after much sufferings. A man who gave his name simply as Offor told Daily Sun that he did the NIN registration in 2017, but they did not put the registration number. He said being oblivious of that serious omission, he went to the MTN office in the city to get his SIM-card linked with the NIN, only to be told his NIN slip had no registration number.
He said he rushed back to Aba South Local Government headquarters where he did the initial registration, on a Monday, but was told to come back the following Friday because that was the only day they would have time to put the registration number and re-print the slip. But the correction was made the following day after money exchanged hands.
Although the officer in-charge of NIMC office in Umuahia could not be reached, however, one of the officials who did not want his name in print because he was not authorized to speak to the press attributed the sufferings people are passing through before being registered to the large crowd that troop to the office everyday which he said have overstretched both the manpower and machines they have in the office.
On the issue of collecting money from applicants, he said no staff would on his own ask anybody for money before he does his job, but that at times, the applicants on their own assist in buying fuel to operate the gen sets since the office has no steady power supply.