Monday, March 2, 2020
London, UK

o thanks to those who brought back Buhari to continue with his 1984 draconian military style of governance. They must begin to see the sheer folly of that decision.

In principle the policy has its merits. But it misses the point seriously, where it links National Identity Number as a condition precedent to register telephone SIM card for the following reasons:

  1. the hollowness of a link between NIN and SIM card.: what happens to non Nigerians either living or visiting or in employment or operating a business in Nigeria?

  2. flowing from 1 above, it will have serious drawbacks on tourism drive and the corresponding loss of foreign exchange/revenue. It portends negative implications for potential investors who will be scared away because of communication problems or will be forced to rely on high roaming costs to do business in Nigeria. So, the argument is that unless the directive contains a mechanism to register foreigners’ SIM cards, then it is hopelessly counterproductive, thoughtless and myopic. Several years of military rule, militarised the psyche which is proving difficult to get rid of.

  3. Implications for Nigerians in diaspora. Let it be known loud and clear to the authorities inducing Nigerians to bring back their money/capital home, that more than half of those Nigerians sending home about $25 billion a year do not hold Nigerian passports nor must they. If most Nigerians can no longer operate in Nigeria because they cannot register a basic telephone then their remittances will be lost to Nigeria. Why authorities, just wake up and impose policies without appreciating the consequences is beyond logic. The policy should be revised forthwith.

  4. The authorities stand to collect a minimum $500 million from about 10 million Nigerians in diaspora. This is serious money to be collected from Nigerians largely(99%) from one section of the country but to be supervised by directors from a different tiny section of Nigeria. Therefore to seek to raise such funds without parliamentary approval is not only illiberal but inequitable and vexatious. So, the authorities must not only make clear the uses to put the funds into but obtain consent from the peoples’ representatives.

  5. The most folly of such ill thought out policy is the implications for the telecommunications industry. To say, that this industry has been revolutionary and a breathe of fresh air(in an environment) where nothing works is an understatement(“eine untertriebung” as the Germans will say) Though not officially authenticated it is widely believed that the telecoms sector contributes the 2nd largest to the GDP. The revolution has been there for everyone to see. It has created massive employment, economic activities, advertising both in local and domestic media houses, given telephones to millions of Nigerians. All that will disappear if the policy is not vacated with immediate effect. The policy seeks to invalidate millions of SIM cards not linked to NIN by 19 January 2021. It is ridiculous. Nigeria lacks the capacity to register 160 million people in such a short period on the assumption that the policy is even legal in the first place.

    The management body charged with the registration has only managed to register about 46 million during the last ten years. Then all of a sudden like a bolt from the blue sky(a page borrowed from the military manual) it is being directed to register about 160 million Nigerians in few weeks! It is a joke. And it is in complete contempt of the pandemic protocols. No doubt the management body will come hopelessly short come 19 January 2021. Then extrapolate to the telecoms industry - they will have to invalidate millions of subscribers impacting grossly on revenue, this in turn will lead to mass unemployment, loss of tax revenues etc. Let it be known to the authorities that most Nigerians cannot access Niger Delta oil proceeds available to the authorities to use at whim. It will destroy the Nigerian economy. This is the only sector working in Nigeria. This writer wonders why the network providers have not gone to court to test the constitutionality and reasonableness of the policy. To the constitutional/legal question we shall now return:

  6. The constitutionality of the policy: reliance is placed on the submissions of Monday Ubani SAN aired on Rise News. He submitted that NIN is not one of the requirements under the law to register SIM card. Therefore the policy is unconstitutional and/or illegal. Where this is the case, then his answer to the question, “what relief are you seeking at court?” in the case he instituted at court, does not flow from the premise of his submissions. With all due respect, It is a remiss on his part to seek a relief of extra time of between 9 months and 1 year for a policy that is not in compliance with the law. Where that is the case the policy is illegal. The logical relief is a vacation of the policy by reason that it is null void and ultra vires.