When most phone lines went dead

Millions of phone lines were deactivated in the past few weeks. A number of them went blank because they were officially deactivated for not registering with NIMC and obtaining the National Identity Number (NIN) which every Nigerian citizen is obligated to obtain. People were warned about that years ago and they neglected to join in the exercise. Other phone lines must have gone dead because of lack of electricity. For a couple of days, many parts of the country were not served electricity for unexplained reasons. The country’s power supply is frequently interrupted. That affected in particular mobile phone services, on which people’s public and private lives virtually depends nowadays. Anybody deprived of his telephone services feels it like partial stroke. Think of what this means to the entire country when millions are castrated by nationwide collapse of telephone services.
To think that the Nigerian government approved the shutting off of millions of phone lines is hard to fathom. Even in their stubbornness to comply with the order asking everybody to obtain the NIN and also link it with telephone numbers, why shoot oneself nationally on both legs by taking out the telephone services of millions of people? With shortage of power government order to shut down most phones in a tottering economy was a huge clog in the wheel of progress.
The terrible experience lingers. It momentarily closed down a number of businesses in all sectors of the economy. For whatever reason, the country’s telephone service is an area that must be protected. It should not be interrupted for one second at any time, considering the cost of such interruption. For what happened with phone lines to have happened it means nobody understands or appreciates the importance and values of not only telecommunication but also communication.
When the phones went dead, the whole country was in riot. The implications were many. The authorities who created the chaos did not know or lost sight that without one’s phone a person has to cover every distance the phone would have covered physically. The cost of one phone call for this may be 20 naira. But by transportation the cost is enormous by comparison. It takes a lot of manpower. It takes time to cover the space. Of course the space the telephone covers in a few seconds is impossible to cover by any other means. As well the cost of doing what the telephone does by other means is impossible to meet. In fact a person whose phone is dead is also dead.
Did the government realize all these and went ahead to disconnect telephone lines? Phones have inestimable value in banking, education, administration, business, trade and commerce, human contacts and relations, governance, family life, health services, information, romance and love affairs. There’s nothing which people cannot do with phones today.
During last few weeks’ massive phone disconnection saga coupled with the power cuts that killed most telephone batteries, a friend’s blocked telephone almost brought calamity to him and his family. When he left home for work, his phone was active. Everyone in his family was fine. Along the way his phone blocked without warning. No one could reach him. He could reach no one. His wife developed a mild fever that rapidly took a turn for the worst. It incapacitated her, she could not take care of their small baby who was only few weeks old. Her husband was out of reach. The man did not know what was happening; that his wife was sick. His absence would put two people in danger, the wife and child. The distraught woman called his secretary. Her line was also blocked. Soon after that last call by the woman her line also blocked for the same offence. Their country has disconnected them and blocked their lines.
It was a complete separation for all of them with possible death of two people waiting to strike them. He had the good sense to rush back home where he saved the situation. But the people he took to the hospital were almost corpses they were revived. But come to think of it, his country caused the danger. He said to me they should thank goodness that nothing untoward happened. How could I have loved this country again? Even for putting us through all that, my wife has said she would find it hard to justify the blocking of phone lines on the flimsy reason given. Who knows some people might have been less fortunate.

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Christian Voice