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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.

“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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House of Representatives holds valedictory session for Ghali Na’abba

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

The House of Representatives, on Thursday, held a valedictory session in honour of a former Speaker of the House, Ghali Na’Abba.

KANO FOCUS reports that Na’Abba, who served as the speaker of the Fourth House (1999-2003), passed away in December 2023 at the age of 65.

Numerous former members of the House attended the valedictory session. They include the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, who served as the speaker of the Ninth House; Aminu Masari, the speaker of the 5th House; Emeka Ihedioha, and Lasun Yusuff, deputy speakers in the 7th and 8th Assemblies.

Others include former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Chibudom Nwuche, who served as deputy to Na’Abba, the family of the late lawmaker, and others.

In his speech, Mr Gbajabiamila said the former legislator met very little in terms of “rules and protocols” to guide the House when he became the speaker in 1999.

He stated that Na’Abba championed the “institutionalisation of the legislature” after years of military rule.

“When our nation returned to democracy in 1999, the rules and protocols that guide us now did not exist at that time. But he worked to guide the House,” he remarked.

Mr Gbajabiamila, who served as the speaker of the House from 2019-2023, said he received valuable counsel from Na’Abba while he (Gbajabiamila) was in office.

“I did not meet him while he was the speaker but I consulted him during my speakership. I treasured the words and the advice he gave,” he said.

He said Mr Na’Abba could have chosen the path of family business, but he chose to serve his people.

Masari, who is also a former governor of Katsina State, also spoke on the role of the former late speaker in shaping the National Assembly. He saluted his courage and doggedness in building Nigeria’s legislature into a formidable institution.

In his remarks, the Speaker of the House, Abbas Tajudeen, said Na’Abba fought the battle for the budget of the National Assembly to be on the “first line charge” and created the current legislative aide system.

“His tenure was marked by efforts to ensure the independence of the legislature, recognising that a truly democratic society thrives when its legislative arm operates without undue influence, freely articulating the will and aspirations of the people.

“He worked diligently with his colleagues to ensure the National Assembly budget was put on the first-line charge. He also formalised the legislative aides’ system we operate today, which continues to boost the capacity of legislators for enhanced performance,” he said.

Tajudeen promised to ensure that Na’Abba’s legacy is solidified through quality legislations.

“As we honour his legacy, let us also acknowledge our collective responsibility to build on the foundations he laid. The legislature remains a vital organ of our democracy, with the potential to drive Nigeria towards unprecedented growth and development.

“As legislators, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the House continues to serve as a forum for meaningful dialogue, a catalyst for change, and a protector of the rights and freedoms of our citizens,” he said.

Two weeks ago, the House, through a motion, resolved to name the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) after Mr Na’Abba. However, the implementation of the motion is subject to concurrence of the Senate.

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Naira Freefall: EFCC arrests 7 BDC operators in Kano

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

No fewer than seven Bureau De Change operators and others have been arrested by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Wednesday in Kano state.

KANO FOCUS reports that the persons were arrested by the operatives who carried out a raid on the BDC operators at the popular forex exchange WAPA market in Fagge local government area.

The Chairman of the market, Malam Sani who confirmed the development to newsmen in Kano, said the operatives raided the market in search of hoarders of dollars.

Wada however maintained that members in the market don’t engage in hoarding and are all operating with licenses from authorities.

“It was a joint taskforce that raided the market in search of those who are hoarding dollars and causing the depreciation in the value of Naira.

“They have arrested no fewer than seven individuals, some of them are our members and others are only passerbys. They said they are going to screen them to confirm who is who. We are yet to meet the taskforce now.

“All of them were arrested randomly and non of them was arrested carrying even a dollar on him.

“The WAPA Forex Market is licenced and there are no fewer than two hundred licenced individual outfits here in the market. All our operations are operating within the ambit of the law.

“When they struck, they hindered activities in the market as people closed down there offices, however things have since returned to normal.

“I advised the authority to implore the whistleblower tactic to track down those who have Dollars hoarded. But there is no Dollar anywhere in the market at the moment. Nobody has it. Even if you see it, it will not be more that $100 or $200 that’s all. We don’t have Dollars.

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Education Summit: Kano Govt frowns at late coming to school among pupils

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The Kano state government has expressed displeasure over staggering lateness among pupils, warning that it will not condone late coming to school by children.

KANO FOCUS reports that the commissioner of education Alhaji Umar Haruna Doguwa gave the warning on Tuesday at a two-day education summit organised by the government in conjunction with Adolescent Health and Information Projects AHIP, PLANE, CSACEFA and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).

Doguwa said said the government would collaborate with Hisbah corps to monitor students who move around the streets during school hours and take action them.

Alhaji Umar Haruna Doguwa

At the Summit with the theme, ‘Towards Strengthening Retention and Completion of Girl’s Education‘, the commissioner informed participants of strides of this administration in revitalising and fortifying the education sector with focus on empowering and retaining girls in the school system towards completion.

According to him “the government is collaborating with European Union EU and other development partners to improve education in the state.”

He noted that, to improve better system, the government would also constitutes Council on Education and Education data bank for effective monitoring.

Diginatries at the event

Recognising transportation barriers, Doguwa explained that, Kano state government has reintroduced dedicated 57 shuttle buses for girl students in the state to ease transport.

The commissioner said; “Within the 8 metropolitan Local Government Areas. We are currently looking at the ministry of Education proposal of expanding the shuttle bus service coverage to reach remote and underserved areas.”

ACF representatives at the event

Speaking on lack of schools attendance by students, he said the government would collaborate with Hisbah paramilitary to monitor students who move about the streets during school hours and take action them.

The Director Adolescent Health and Information Projects, Hajiya Mairo Bello identified education as the first foundation of life, stressing that “AHIP is determined to promote Girl Child Education not only in Kano state but the entire Northern Nigeria.”

She said other thematic areas of AHIP includes youth Development programmes, Women Empowerment initiatives, Health promotions, life skills training, Community Mobilization and Networking and Gender and Social inclusions among others initiatives.

Diginatries at the event

“Our Adolescent girls must retain and complete their education for Nigeria’s brighter future and economic prosperity,” Hajia Bello said.

She noted that promotion of education is moral responsibility of all, adding that her NGO is ready to partner with the Kano state government and others to advance the course of girl child education.

Representatives of Traditional Institutions

Also speaking, Professor Ismail Mohammed Zango while presenting findings from a Research conducted on Exploring the Adolescent Girls’ Education in Kano state said, school attendance completion ratio in Kano indicates that boys seems to complete their junior and senior secondary Schools more than the girls in Kano state.

He stressed the need to bridge the gap, identifying critical roles of parents in achieving Girls retention and completion of schools.

Zango also identified poverty as a great factor to school retention and completion of girls Education.

The Chairman Arewa Consultative Forum ACF Kano Chapter, Dr. Goni Umar Farouk called on the business community to contribute to Education and not leave it to the hands of governments a lone.

He also, called on the Kano State government to invest in ICT Education of children as the world is going digital.

 

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