The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has expressed dismay at the large crowds of Nigerians at various offices of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to undergo their National Identity Number (NIN) registration.
The Federal Government through the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has ordered telecommunications companies to deactivate telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their phones to their National Identity Number.
It also said telcos subscribers with NIN have January 19 as the deadline to link their NIN with their SIM cards, while subscribers without NIN have until February 9 to do so.
But speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Dr Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator of the PTF, urged Nigerians to visit the NIMC offices only when their appointment has been confirmed in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the novel coronavirus (NIMC).
According to Aliyu, the task force has at various times written the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, to shut down some NIMC offices over non-adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
“We’ve been working closely with NIMC and the Ministry of Communications. The issue they are having is outside their premises and we insist that those protocols be followed,” Aliyu said on TVC’s Your View.
“In the first instance, people are not even supposed to go to their offices until they have booked. The protocols are strictly followed inside their offices. People should not be presenting themselves without the necessary invitation; they should follow the protocols that both NIMC and the Ministry of Communications have set up.
“We are not happy with the crowds outside NIMC offices and we have reached out to the Minister of Communications and we have insisted that our protocols be followed in or outside the building and they should make sure there are enough enforcement agents to control that. In situations where they can’t enforce these rules, we have asked them to close those offices and they have been closing them.”
Aliyu also said the public attitude of Nigerians will determine whether the Federal Government will impose another national lockdown to contain the second wave of COVID-19 currently ravaging the country.
The Federal Government had in March 2020 imposed a lockdown on the Federal Capital Territory as well as Lagos and Ogun States for five weeks as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic.
The PTF National Coordinator noted that no decision on a fresh lockdown has been made yet, but said the Federal Government is closely observing the actions of Nigerians, as well as the situation in the various isolation centres and hospitals.
“A lockdown is not going to be decided by the PTF but it is going to be decided by the behaviour of the public when it comes to these rules. We have countries abroad that have very strict non-pharmaceutical intervention measures and everybody follows it. The flights are coming in, schools are open, churches are open and they don’t have Covid problem because everybody observes the rules.
“We definitely don’t want a lockdown and because we don’t want to lockdown, we need to make sure we do everything we can to prevent ourselves from reaching that state where the government will have to take action,” he said.