Sad Stories Of Vendors Who Lost Their Source Of Livelihood Because Of Govt’s Ban On SIM Card Sale
Almost three months after the Federal Government banned the sale and activation of new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) in the country, vendors have decried the frustration they are suffering from the ban as they cannot take care of their families and foot their bills anymore.
The Vendors who spoke to THE WHISTLER explained how they have gone out of business and in the worst case laid off workers as a result of the policy they described as ‘endangering their livelihood.’
The Nigerian Communications Commission had on December 9, 2020 ordered the suspension of sale and activation of SIM cards across the country as it seeks to audit subscriber registration database to achieve global standards and quality in the issuance of SIM Cards.
The Commission also threatened sanctions where operators fail to comply. Part of the sanction could be withdrawal of operating license.
The country’s biggest operator, MTN Nigeria was the first to suspend SIM card sales and registration across its outlets about 24 hours after the directive was announced by the NCC.
Isa Pantami, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology had earlier in 2020 directed the NCC to deactivate all illegally registered SIM leading to the deactivation of 9.2 million pre-registered SIM cards across Nigeria.
Although the NCC by the end of December, 2020 soften the ban for replacement of lost, stolen or damaged SIM card, the ban on sales and activation of new SIM cards was still in place pending the completion of National Identity Number registration which has been extended to April.
A vendor, Babangida Umar, who owns the Bin- Umar Communications said in a chat with the website that he has sacked 20 workers under him following the ban on sale and registration of new SIM cards.
Umar who earns between N100,000 to N150,000 monthly from the sale and activation of SIM cards alone after paying all his workers, said he is now struggling to survive.
He said,”The ban affected my business so badly. I have up to 20 boys under me but they are now at home doing nothing. The only thing I am doing for now is selling accessories and recharge cards.
Apart from me, all my boys almost 20 they are home doing nothing. It is almost three months now and we are stranded.
“The boys under me who are all agents to different network register SIM. Since the time the government banned sale and registration of new SIM cards, we closed up that aspect of my business, because we do not have choice. For them, they are currently unemployed.
“Before the ban, I used to pay all my workers between N20,000 and N30,000 depending on their role.
“For me, every month I earn like N100,000 or N150,000 as profit from sale and registration of SIMs. But for the past three months I have lost all those earnings.
“They told us the ban was because of insecurity, they want to bring in new policy and all that. We didn’t know this policy will take this long and it is frustrating. We have met all the conditions given to us. They said we have to provide solar so that light will be readily available and hand sanitizers. “
Another vendor, Oluwale Femi who operates under the business name, Fexi Telecommunication Company, said he has lost huge income as a result of the ban.
Femi who said he had five workers dealing on SIM registration said apart from downsizing, he losses an average of N150,000 profit monthly due to the policy.
He said, “Since the government placed ban in December last year, I have lost many things. I have lost all the plans I have. That is our way of living and that is where we earn our money. We have families but now we can’t cope we cant even take care of our family anymore. as a young family man, I have some bills to pay.
“Before now, I have five staff, but now they are jobless. I told them to just find anything to do. Some of them are still jobless.
“In a month before the ban after paying all my staff, I could still make like N100,000 to N150,000. I paid some of my workers based on their work daily. I pay N1,000 per day, some I pay them N25,000 monthly. I will still give them daily allowance like feeding and transport. Sometimes I give them N500 or N300 depending on sales.”
Femi called on government to speed up the SIM card audit in other to restore their means of livelihood which has been badly affected by the ban.
He said, “We are begging the Federal Government to try and do something about it very fast before it gets too late. Many of us have become jobless because of this.
“They said they are working to secure SIM use, they have the way out. They can speed up the process. They have most of the details they need and they have introduced the NIN policy which is now compulsory.
“Let them open registration again so that we can get back our job. Thousands of youths out there have become jobless and they need something to lookup to.”