The Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has described the ongoing registration of SIM cards amid the strong second wave of COVID-19 as an irresponsible act of governance.
Officials of the National Identity Management Commission have recently declared a strike action, complaining that they were not provided with personal protective equipment and also owed allowances.
Applicants queue to obtain national identity numbers at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) office, in the Lagos state capital of Ikeja, on December 30, 2020
On Friday, in a statement issued by the Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, the group said the ongoing registration shows total disregard for the lives of citizens as this could “expose them to the vagaries of coronavirus without any form of protection under these terrible conditions.”
The statement partly read, “It is so barbaric and archaic that Nigerians are being exposed to these dangers which shows lack of critical thinking in leadership when bodies like Google, etc. can manage whatever information on people’s phones without having any contact with the owners.”
The group also challenged the government to respond to the allegation by the President of the Association of the Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) unit, Lucky Asekokhai, that the virus had been detected in three officials of the agency at its headquarters but that it was being covered up.
Lucky had said the workers were annoyed because the management of the commission was aware of the development, but kept it from other workers, who could have taken necessary precautions to protect themselves.
Lucky said, “Three workers of the NIMC have contracted COVID-19 because in our recent meeting a member of staff actually testified to it.
“The minute of that meeting captured it, as three persons are down with COVID-19. Some of us actually thought those guys were on leave. It was cleared yesterday (Wednesday) that they were treating themselves in isolation centres.
“Our annoyance is that the management refused to say it out, knowing that it would have helped us to take all necessary precautions.”
The Chairman of the ASCSN, NIMC Unit, Abakaliki, Edene Chukwudi, also confirmed that three workers of the commission had indeed been infected with COVID-19.
He said, “We are on strike because three of our staff members contracted coronavirus and this has also spread to their children. This is because of the nature of work we do here, which brings us in contact with people every time. The Federal Government has not given us any personal protective equipment.
“We do not see any difference between those asking our workers and the public to go through these dangers at this time as being different from Boko Haram who are bombing our innocent people. We, therefore, demand the immediate suspension of the exercise until all the issues are addressed.”