SEVERAL media reports since July this year have confirmed that the much-vaunted linkage of the Subscriber Identification Module, SIM, with the National Identity Number, NIN, has failed to achieve its objective of helping to nail terrorists, bandits and kidnappers.
The Federal Government felt that its efforts to curtail ‘Bandits’ terrorising the North West and parts of the North Central failed because the criminals were able to freely use their GSM phones to call relatives of their kidnapped victims for ransoms.
The Ministry of Communications issued a directive, mandating the linkage of the SIMs to NINs for easy tracing and apprehension of these terrorists.
Indeed, it went ahead to give several deadlines for the nationwide implementation of the directive. While Nigerians were still struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and the #EndSARS crisis, the Federal Government approved a December 30, 2020 deadline for linkage of the SIMs to NINs or owners would lose their phone numbers. It went on to extend the deadline five times, with the latest being October 30, 2021.
Nobody is arguing against the laudable policy to link the SIMs and NINs. It should help in solidifying our identity and security systems and upgrading the quality of governance if the government itself is serious about exploiting its advantages.
But from all indications, the government has not shown its ability or willingness to tap into the strengths of the linkage. The criminals holding their captives in the forests have continued to freely use their lines to conduct what some regime officials have cynically described as “transactional business”.
Reports indicate that when the captives are released after paying huge ransoms, security officials still fail to act even when the phone numbers of the terrorists are given to them.
It is the job of these agencies, in collaboration with the telecom service providers, to nail terrorists and kidnappers who make telephone calls. A situation whereby they fail to act even when the numbers of the criminals are given to them shows that the SIM-NIN linkage policy has failed even before it is completed.
Officials are not doing their jobs. Two reasons can be adduced for this. It is either that some officials are hands-in-gloves with the criminals for selfish benefits and at the innocent citizens’ expense, or there is an atmosphere of general alienation and disgruntlement among security and defence personnel. It could be both.
We are surely reaping the detriment of putting our military, police and other security agencies in the hands of people from a section of the country. This leaves them free to do whatever they like with our country, while the personnel from the rest of the country are discontented.
For Nigeria to work again, we must dump this regime’s extreme nepotism policies.