NIN registration struggles show Pantami not doing enough to redeem his tainted image [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]

Due to the downward trend Nigeria continues to go under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari, there are very few faces that are liked in his cabinet. One of them is Isa Pantami.

NIN registration struggles show Pantami not doing enough to redeem his tainted image [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has been under the spotlight ever since it was revealed in early 2021 that he made comments in the past that suggested he showed sympathy for terrorist groups like include Boko Haram, Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Pantami claims he made those comments based on his understanding of events at the time but has since had a shift in orientation.

"Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity," he said in response to the allegations last year.

Despite clearing his name of any wrongdoing which has been difficult to convince the hearts of the people, and the Federal Government obviously backing him, Pantami is not doing anything concrete to show why he actually deserves to be the communication minister in the first place. He is rather busy attending social events such as the recent briefing of the expansion of Al-Noor Mosque in Abuja where he gave a speech on how the project was beneficial to the development of the Muslim community in Nigeria.

Talk of misplaced priorities.

Pantami holds a very important office in the country as communication minister and this is not the time for social appearances, not when many Nigerians are having to face unpleasant experiences in getting their telephone lines barred because of issues relating to linking their National Identity Number with their SIM cards. Some who are having to do NIN registration for the first time are having to go through exploitation and harassment just in a bid to comply with a government directive that came too suddenly and put millions of Nigerians with mobile phones in panic mode.

These are the kind of issues that need public addressing from Pantami. The country needs recommendations on how to make the exercise easier and less cumbersome at this rush hour, how to make phone numbers and bank accounts less susceptible to fraud that keeps growing on a daily basis, even with NINs and BVNs activated.

Nigeria is in a big communication mess where potentially thousands if not millions of mobile phone users would be unable to make calls or access the internet. This will heavily impact business and other economic activities and potentially put citizens in danger if they are unable to communicate with their close contacts, associates and communities. Nigeria is currently in very dangerous territory, so this is not the time for such action from a security standpoint. Getting cut off the communication grid can have grave consequences.

Pantami is the first-ever Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, the latter stemming from the Federal Government’s drive to be at par with the world that is becoming more digitalised each passing day.

Sadly, those efforts under Pantami such as the rolling out of BVN and NIN have been problematic to say the least. Indeed, one of the alleged reasons why phone users are having issues with their NIN is because the company handling NIN and BVN generation has reportedly terminated its contract with the Federal Government, and has now left those who used their BVNs to generate NIN in limbo.

These kinds of allegations, if true, only highlight how Pantami - a Computer Science graduate - has performed poorly in his role as communication minister, which is a shame. It is more shameful that he should have resigned ever since his links with Islamic extremism were established.

The practice of stepping down is, however, not common in this part of the world. Pantami doesn’t seem to care about his reputation and it will only raise and fuel more conspiracies if he does not deliver on his mandate.

Just a year remains for the incumbent government to hand over power to the next. Pantami won't be there come May next year, but if he cannot do anything noteworthy that eases the lives of Nigerians, he certainly won’t be remembered for good and that might put a stain on any political ambition he might have in future.

Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of a Pulse Contributor, it doesn't reflect the opinions of the company.

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