NIMC workers suspend strike, give FG 21-day ultimatum on demands

Workers of the National Identity Management Commission have suspended the industrial action they embarked upon on Thursday over the fear of COVID-19 spread in the agency.

It was gathered that the workers decided to put the strike on hold after a meeting with the Federal Government where it was agreed that the demands of the employees would be addressed.

However, the workers gave the government a 21-day ultimatum to meet their demands.

The President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NIMC Unit, Lucky Asekokhai, confirmed the suspension of the strike to one of our correspondents in Abuja.

He said NIMC workers across the country were being contacted to resume work by Monday and recommence the enrolment of citizens for the National Identity Number.

The strike had grounded activities at the offices of NIMC across the country, as the workers stopped work, leaving large crowds of people who had visited the commission to obtain their NINs stranded.

Asekokhai said, “We just finished the meeting and the minister (of communications and digital economy) has intervened in the matter. He has promised to look into our grievances.

“So we will be meeting with the minister on Tuesday and on that note, we’ve called off the strike and all workers will return to their offices by Monday morning.”

On whether the association had communicated the latest development to its branches nationwide, Asekokhai replied, “Yes, we are doing it right away. We are putting out a memo to that effect which will be everywhere in 30 minutes.”

He said the Trade Union Congress, which was the mother body of ASCSN, was part of the meeting with the government, adding that a 21-day ultimatum was served on the management of NIMC.

He said, “We actually served the management of NIMC a 21-day ultimatum based on the issues of welfare and safety against COVID-19 that we raised.

“The ultimatum starts counting today (Friday) officially. And for it to start counting officially from today, we had to step down the strike we embarked on yesterday (Thursday). So on that note also, we’ve called off the strike, while the ultimatum starts running.”

Meanwhile, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has described the ongoing registration of Subscriber Identification Module (otherwise called SIM) cards amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as “the most irresponsible act of governance” on display in the history of Nigeria.

Afenifere described the exercise as “a display of total disregard for the lives of the citizens to expose them to the vagaries of the coronavirus without any form of protection under these terrible conditions.”

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said these in a statement on Friday entitled, ‘NIMC registration amidst COVID-19 irresponsible.’

The Federal Government had on December 14, 2020 ordered telecommunications firms to disconnect the telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their NINs to their SIMs.

Nigerians without NINs had since been trooping to the NIMC offices, disregarding COVID-19 protocols such as wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Appalled by the situation, Afenifere said, “It is barbaric and archaic that Nigerians are being exposed to these dangers which show a lack of critical thinking in leadership when bodies like Google can manage whatever information on people’s phones without having any contact with the owners.

“We challenge the government to respond to the strong allegation by the President of the Association of the Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (NIMC Unit), Asekokhai, that already, the virus had been detected in three officials of the agency.” at its headquarters with the government doing a cover-up.”

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