A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, has called for the postponement of the Subscriber Identification Module card registration with the National Identification Number.
While urging the Nigerian Communications Commission to reconsider its stance on the registration issue, he said this was to prevent the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
Moghalu who is also the Convener of To Build A Nation made the call in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Awka.
NAN recalls that the Federal Government on December 21, extended the deadline for subscribers with NIN from December 30 to January 19, 2021 by three weeks.
The Federal Government also extended the registration for subscribers without NIN from December 30 to February 9, 2021 by six weeks.
The extension followed a directive by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, that any telecoms subscriber who failed to submit NIN to its network provider within two weeks would be blocked from Dec. 31.
Moghalu said though the idea of SIM registration with NIN was a laudable exercise, the timing for implementation needs to be reconsidered.
He said the exercise which required gathering of people at designated centres around the country, could become a super-spreader event of the new COVID-19 variant.
“The policy directive by the NCC for the integration of the citizens’ National Identification Numbers with their mobile phones is a good idea.
“I have long canvassed the provision of a national database of Nigerians for the purpose of economic planning and service delivery to the citizens.
“However, the implementation of the NCC directive should not be now. The integration may become a super-spreader event of COVID-19.
“Nigerians should not have to choose between keeping their phones connected and risking their lives with the pandemic. Therefore, NCC should postpone the exercise until it is safe to resume it.
“I suspect that the regulator may have been planning the implementation of the policy before the new wave of the infection. It should now respond to the need to safeguard public health,” he said.
The former CBN chief urged the Federal Government to prioritise plans to vaccinate a significant number of Nigerians, especially health workers and vulnerable groups, against COVID-19.
”The lesson of the past months is that containing the pandemic that has killed nearly two million people worldwide is necessary to save lives and end lockdown.
“Implementing any public policy requires adequate planning and project risk management. This is the best way to achieve the nation’s policy objectives and make progress,” Moghalu said.