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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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Kano domesticate social protection policy

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Abdullahi Ganduje

Nasiru Yusuf

Kano state governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has approved the domestication of National social protection policy in the state.

Kano Focus reports that the Social Protection Policy is designed to show the commitment of the Government to the effective mobilisation and efficient utilisation of state resources to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

The state Commissioner of planning and budget Nura Muhammad Dankadai revealed this on Friday at a one day interactive session with with journalists and civil society organizations.

Alhaji Nura Muhammad Dankadai

Mr Dankadai said governor Ganduje approved the domestication of the policy on Thursday.

According to him when domesticated the policy will provide legal framework for school feeding programme, ante natal and post natal care, addressing gender based violence and protecting people living with disabilities.

On the meeting with journalists, Mr Dankadai said it was aimed at intimating them with on the state government’s projects and received some inputs for possible submission to the government.

The commissioner uses the opportunity to appeal to civil society organizations and journalists to sensitise people on the current economic challenges which made it difficult for the state to pay workers salary for the month of March.

In their separate contributions Akibu Hamisu, I. G Maryam and Wali Ado Rano advised Kano state government on the need to address multiple taxation, grant local government financial autonomy and holding periodic interactive session with CSOs and journalists.

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AKTH honours NCC Boss UG Danbatta

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Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, being presented with an appreciation award by Prof. Abdulrahman Sheshe, Chief Medical Director, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano, during the courtesy visit.

Nasiru Yusuf

 

The management of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has visited the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communication Commission Umar Garba Danbatta.

Kano Focus reports that during the visit the AKTH team also presented an award to Danbatta as an expression of the hospital’s appreciation for the enormous contributions of the EVC and the Commission to the development of health institutions over the years in the country.

Speaking during the visit, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of AKTH, Abdulrahman Sheshe, who led the delegation on the courtesy call, said, “the objective of our being here today is to appreciate your contribution in person and as EVC of NCC to the growth and development of the teaching hospital.”

According to Sheshe, through the support and donations from Kano people like the EVC and institutions like NCC, the hospital has increased its bed capacity from 250 to 700, as well as performing 57 successful transplant surgeries.

“You have also made enormous contributions in this regard and that has helped us to get new dialysis machines through your assistance and these machines are being put to use, aside from other state-of-the-art equipment already in place,” he said while appreciating the EVC.

The CMD, however, sought NCC’s support in the area of a Health Information Management System (HIMS) and digital capacity for staff.

Responding, however, Danbatta thanked the hospital management for the visit and the award, noting that the Commission supports federal institutions with necessary ICT equipment across the country and is ready to assist AKTH in this regard.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

“As a Commission, we are working to bridge the infrastructure divide, which is an element of the entire digital ecosystem. We do this via a lot of ongoing regulatory initiatives. And, through our training arm, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), we provide digital literacy to critical sectors of the economy, including the health sector, we also intervene through our Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme,” he said.

According to Danbatta, digital divide can be bridged by making computers available and ICT services accessible to people and key sectors of the economy.

Danbatta (middle) flanked by top management committee of AKTH and NCC staff during the courtesy visit

“Infrastructure that can host this massive flow of information and knowledge is broadband infrastructure and this is top-most in the agenda of the Commission. Indeed, ICT is transforming every sector of the economy and the earlier we embrace the vast opportunity brought by ICT the better,” the EVC pointed out.

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Police arrest bandit who abduct his uncle for one million Naira ransom

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Abubakar Musa displaying the two AK-47 ripples

Nasiru Yusuf

 

 

 

Police in Kano said they have arrested a 27 year old Abubukar Musa who confessed to have abducted his uncle and received one million Naira ransom.

Kano Focus reports that the police spokesperson in Kano Abdullahi Kiyawa announced this in a video clip sent to journalists on Sunday.

He said the suspect was arrested with two AK 47 ripple suspected to be used for kidnapping and banditry.

Mr Kiyawa said preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is among the bandits terrorizing some parts of Kano, Birnin Gwari in Kaduna state and some Northern states.

Mr Musa an indigine of Rurum village in Tudun Wada local government Kano state recalled how in the past abducted his uncle and collected one million Naira ransom before he release him.

The suspect also told police that he borrowed the guns found under his possession from Muhammadu Bakanoma in Zamfara state to confront another bandit called Malam at Birnin Gwari whom he accused with abducting his wife and daughter.

“I am a cattle rustler. I once abducted my uncle Alhaji Haruna and my cousin Bappan Jauro six years ago. These are the only two persons I have ever abducted. I abducted him (Alhaji Haruna) because his two children (Medi and Bappan Jauro) have kidnapped my younger sister Hafsat.

” I released him after receiving one million Naira ransom. We are now living with him (Alhaji Haruna( in the same compound,” Mr Musa said.

Mr Kiyawa said investigation is ongoing and will issue a statement when completed.

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