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Senate expresses satisfaction with NCC’s regulatory performance

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Nasiru Yusuf

The Senate Committee on Communications says it was impressed by the various regulatory interventions which the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has taken to ensure improved service delivery and bridging access gaps in the country.

Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman of the Committee, who led other members of the Committee to NCC’s Head Office in Abuja on a familiarisation and fact-finding visit on Tuesday (10/03/2020), said, given the mammoth  of challenges facing the industry and the achievements of the Commission so far,  its regulatory interventions and performance deserves to be  appreciated and commended.

The committee members were received by the Executive Management team of the Commission, led by Prof. Umar Dambatta, NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), who provided a detailed briefing of the Commission’s core mandates, its various initiatives that have helped to improve wider access to telecommunications as well as the challenges in the regulatory environment, which formed the basis for the comments made by the Committee members.

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“We are here on a familiarisation and fact-finding tour to the Commission but I must say that we are impressed by the presentation made by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta, on the activities of the Commission so far in regulating the industry.

“We particularly see the Platinum Category Certificate of Award for exceptional organisational performance which NCC received from the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) in 2017 as a testament to your recognition as a performing agency of the Federal  Government. However, we want you to do more for Nigerians, ” Mrs. Tinubu said.

Earlier, while addressing the Committee members, Prof. Dambatta reeled out industry statistics which, irrefutably captured the growth recorded in the industry.

According to him, Nigeria attained and surpassed 30 percent broadband penetration target in December, 2018 and the penetration has further increase to 38.49 per cent as of December, 2019.

Also, Prof. Dambatta said the number of active phone lines has increased to over 185 million; active Internet subscriptions on global system for mobile communications (GSM), fixed wired and voice over internet protocol (VoIP)  networks have equally increased to over 126 million.

The EVC added that teledensity is 96.76 per cent, and quarterly contribution of telecoms to gross domestic product (GDP) has reached 10.60  per cent. The NCC, through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) has reduced the number of access-gaps clusters in the country further from 114. Hitherto, some 38 million Nigerians were affected by access gap clusters.

Prof. Dambatta explained to the  Committee what the Commission has done, so far, with respect to spectrum administration in the sector. He stated that despite the crucial role of spectrum, and being a scarce resoure, the Commission has deployed spectrum quite effectively for the development of the telecom industry.

Some of the clear goal-oriented programmes in that regard include development of spectrum trading, ongoing effort to leverage Television White Space (TVWS) to address rural connectivity, the Proof of Concept (PoC) non-commercial trial of Fifth Generation (5G) networks, and development guidelines on commercial satellites deployment.

Prof. Dambatta stated that the Commission’s efforts in licensing Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to cascade fibre optic into the hinterland to reach all the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country, is succeeding and will bolster government’s effort at expanding the nation’s broadband infrastructure.

The EVC recalled various inter-agency collaborations, frequent engagement of state governments to discuss issue of Right of Way (RoW), multiple regulations, taxation and other challenges, are consciously articulated towards improving deployment of telecoms infrastructure to ensure improved services for the telecom consumers.

The Commission, Prof. Dambatta said, has also issued various Directions to Mobile Metwork Operators (MNOs) with respect to roll-over data and forceful subscriptions to ensure that consumers are not shortchanged by market forces.

Similarly, Prof. Dambatta said the introduction of Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code to manage unsolicited messages, the Toll-Free Number (622) for the escalation of complaints and the 112 Emergency Communication Number which is connected to the Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs), are conscious policies put in place to ensure that the rights of telecom consumers are safeguarded and to ensure that Nigerians enjoy derivable benefits of new communication  technologies.

At the moment, eighteen (18) states of the Federation currently have operational ECCs while the efforts are ongoing by the Commission to ensure ECCs are operational in the remaining states in the country.

The EVC also told the Committee members that the Commission is instrumental to the listing of MTN and Airtel on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE); resolved N1.03 trillion fine against MTN; promoted the Code of Corporate Governance in the industry from voluntary to mandatory compliance; developed new numbering plan to enhance opportunities for emerging technologies; and restructured the telecoms value-added services (VAS) segment resulting in licensing of 10 VAS aggregator companies,

Prof. Dambatta, who appreciated the support of the National Assembly so far, however, listed key issues affecting the regulatory environment. These, he said, include power, which is the biggest challenge facing telecommunications operations in the country; multiple regulations and multiple regulations; security challenges, vandalism and theft of telecom installations and transmission cable cuts; as well as RoW issue.

The Committee members assured NCC of their readiness to support the regulatory efforts of the Commission through legislative intervention and other collaboration towards addressing the challenges in the regulatory environment.

They also urged the NCC to focus more on increased access across the country as well as ensuring affordability of telecoms services for Nigerians.

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Kano Emir to head community policing advisory committee

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Aminu Ado Bayero

Mukhtar Yahya Usman

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has appointed the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero as head of a community policing advisory committee.

KANO FOCUS reports that Mr Bayero is expected to work together with a deputy commissioner of police, Balarabe Sule, who is also the chairman of a second committee–the State Community Policing Community–to enhance security in the state.

Mr Ganduje inaugurated the two committees at the Government House, Kano on Friday.

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“The committee will be giving advice on how to come about the issue of security in the state,” the governor said, referring to the emir’s team.

Mr Ganduje said there is need for communities to be engaged in the fight against crime.

“We urge people to cooperate with the security agencies in providing them with useful information. Because it is the people of the community who know criminals among them,” he added.

In his remarks the Inspector General of Police, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector General, (DIG) Andul Dahiru Danwawu commended Mr Ganduje for his efforts on security in the state.

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Ganduje’s 2nd term worst in Kano history – Opposition

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Ganduje Oathtaking

Abubakar Dangambo and Nasiru Yusuf

Kano state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje’s second term is the worst in history according to the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, a charge that the government has dismissed.

Former PDP chairman and Kwankwasiyya stalwart Umar Haruna Doguwa made the accusation in an interview with Kano Focus marking the first anniversary of Mr Ganduje’s second term.

Mr Doguwa said Ganduje’s administration has not introduced a single new project within the year under review.

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“In terms of infrastructure I have not seen anywhere within one year where one block of new project was put. Just check. New project? This year? No.”

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Mr Doguwa also accused the Ganduje administration of destroying both the traditional and religious heritages of Kano state within the year.

“Kano traditional institution is known far and even beyond Africa. But it was destroyed by only one person for his selfish desire.

“I am referring to the balkanisation of Kano emirate and subsequent dethronement of Emir Muhammad Sanusi ll. This cannot be forgotten.

“Secondly, take Kano as the centre of commerce and religious learning.

“Even in that learning, there was no time in the history of Kano when system of Islamic learning was worst hit, like this one year of Ganduje administration.

“You know the issue of Almajirai which was supposed to be modernised, but destroyed by this administration.

“The worst is branding a particular group of Ulama as anti-government.

These two actions have direct consequences on government progress,” Mr Doguwa said.

Free or Borrowed Education?

The opposition politician also faulted the implementation of free and compulsory education policy by the Ganduje administration.

He accused Mr Ganduje of excluding tertiary students from the program’s beneficiaries as he claimed was the case during the Kwankwaso administration.

“It should also be on record that total free education being operated by Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was given free of charge, without any foreign or local loan from anywhere.

“The so-called free education being operated by governor Ganduje is for a cost.

“Though it is partly funded by some donors, I learnt that he has collected N15 billion loan, for what?” Mr Doguwa said.

He also criticised the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Ganduje administration.

“The way it was handled was nothing to write home about.

“Poor people were put in lockdown without palliatives.

“Even in the steering committee you put children you loved against professionalism. People were not fully sensitised.

“Look, the governor made a pronouncement that the government will give palliatives to 500,000 people of Kano out of about 20 million population.

“Even at that, the governor later said they are starting with 50,000 people, where only four people were selected from each political ward. It is just a sham, and it will not solve the problem.” Mr Doguwa said.

Our government has done well

However, Kano state commissioner for youths and sports, Kabiru Ado Lakwaya dismissed the allegations as mere ranting by the opposition.

Mr Lakwaya told Kano Focus that despite challenges, the government has achieved huge successes in the areas of education, health, economy, youths, transportation and infrastructure.

He said Mr Ganduje is championing the integration of Almajiri into the formal education sector.

“The policy on Almajiri repatriation will continue as it sees the move an opportunity to make life better for them as citizens.

“It is a collective effort by northern governors to tackle insecurity in the region.” He said.

The commissioner also said contrary to claims by the opposition of lapses in the handling of Covid 19 pandemic, Mr Ganduje was the first governor in Nigeria to set up an isolation centre even before the virus reached Kano.

“He imposed movement restrictions and banned inter-states movement all in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus in Kano.” Mr Lakwaya said.

He also dismissed allegations that the government’s only achievement was the balkanization of the Kano Emirate.

“Even the opposition are now happy with the creation of the new Emirates as it helps in developing their communities.

Much needs to be done

Meanwhile, a political analyst, Kabiru Sufi said Mr Ganduje’s second term has achieved a pass mark in the education sector.

Mr Sufi, who holds a PhD in Political Science, told Kano Focus that the government needs to double its efforts to fulfil its promises in education.

“A special launch was made a bill has been taken to the state assembly to secure funds for the program.”

“Launching the program is not enough, as more need to be done, government should redouble effort to actualize the projects, but fairly speaking, government needs to do more.” Mr Sufi said.

The political scientist said the government has also recorded success in infrastructural development though most of the projects are still under construction.

He however argued that critical sectors like agriculture and water supply were not given deserve priority yet, and water supply continues to remain major problem for Kano residents.

Mr Sufi said the government has failed to fulfil its promise of establishing a world class cancer centre though it has launched the project.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many problems in the health sector which need serious attention.

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Pantami not responsible for NIDCOM’s withdrawal from office complex–NCC

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Nasiru Yusuf

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has, again, clarified that the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, was never involved in the process of offer of office allocation to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) at the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex located at Mbora District, Abuja, as the public is being made to believe.

The Commission reiterated this position in a press statement signed by its Director Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, in which it made further clarifications to the members of public and other stakeholders on the situation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, was never involved in the offer to the office space, nor in the withdrawal of the offer for same office space. the Minister should not, therefore, be brought into the issue,” he said.

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According to Dr. Nkemadu, the decision to withdraw the offer of office space from NiDCOM was purely of the NCC, the custodian of the office complex.

“It should, however, be made abundantly clear that the withdrawal of the offer of the office space, which was unconditionally given, in the first instance, to NiDCOM, was informed by exigencies and change in priorities within the NCC, which led to the taking back of the office space earlier allocated with intention of finding a suitable replacement for NiDCOM,” he said.

The Commission, therefore, reiterates its confidence in the leadership, person and office of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

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