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Pantami, Danbatta and consolidating Telecom sector growth

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Pantami and Danbatta

Yakubu Musa

A cornucopia of glad tidings has recently thronged the doors of Nigeria’s telecoms industry.

It all started with various state governments across the country signing executive orders to either waive or harmonize the Right of Way fees, the perennial industry’s bone of contention, following  the  successful intervention of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

There were also the heart-warming stories of burgeoning contribution to the GDP and other spectacular industry statistics.

Then came the cheering presidential directives, reassuring the industry of the security of telecom infrastructure in the country, just before the cherry on the cake, the renewal of its Chief Regulator’s appointment, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR–also on Dr Pantami’s strong recommendation.

“The decision to recommend you for reappointment was to ensure stability in the telecommunications industry and consolidate on the gains and successes already recorded in the industry in the last five years,” said the Minister while hosting  NCC’s management staff, shortly after announcing five more years for Danbatta as the chief executive officer.

Stakeholders approve

Dr Pantami is however not alone in making this profound observation, as his view quickly struck industry’s cord— with virtually every major stakeholder corroborating it.

For instance, while congratulating the EVC for earning the second term in office, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, described the reappointment as a testimony of Danbatta’s good leadership.

According to him, the industry has made momentous progress under the watch of the professor of telecommunications engineering and thus the second term will bring about consistency and stability–something that legacy conscious Dr Pantami was looking out for.

NCC: Digitally boosting President Buhari’s Next Level Agenda

“We are very pleased about his appointment for a second tenure and we congratulate Prof. Danbatta as this is a testimony of his good leadership under which the industry has made significant progress and positive impact on our economy,” he observed.

Likewise, his counterpart, the President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Mr. Olusola Teniola that lauded the reappointment, a testimony to Danbatta’s stakeholder management success story.

“We know that his recommendation is predicated on him being a technocrat, a professional and a promoter of human relations and human capacity who has over the years initiated and implemented successful policies that have positive impact on businesses and Nigerians and we are very confident that he is equal to the task ahead,” he stressed.

Expressing a similar sentiment yet, the Chairman of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, said Danbatta’s first tenure has yielded so many notable achievements which have brought succor to consumers and sanity to the industry as well as increased revenue to the government’s coffers.

“Your reappointment has come at a time when the industry needs consolidation and tidying up of your noble initiatives.

“It also comes at a time when the nation, and Africa as a continent, needs to see the success of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), the total digitization of the economy and the acceleration of the InfraCo model, among other developmental efforts to grow the Nigerian economy through ICT.”

Successes recorded

Truly, many analysts in the sector have welcomed the news of Danbatta’s reappointment with high expectations.

And, their optimism is not far-fetched.

The statistics in the industry from August 2015 when he was appointed the EVC of the NCC to date are firmly on the side of their argument.

Under Danbatta’s watch, the industry defied the odds of economic recession two years ago and emerged as the surprising package of the tumultuous times.

NCC partners FIRS to verify telecommunications VAT

The industry is currently showing a similar remarkable resilience against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the sector’s quarterly contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has kept increasing–from 8.50% in August 2015 to as much as 11%.

But at a time when the Federal Government unveiled its digital economy policy as well as the new National Broad Band policy, it’s worth noting that the painstaking implementation of the Danbatta 8-Point Agenda, helped Nigeria reach and surpass its broadband penetration target of 30%.

Since then, there’s no going back, with penetration approaching 40% now (39.58% April 2020).

Nigeria now boasts of 190,806,067 subscribers against 151,018,624 in August 2015 while teledensity increased, after its rebasing to 91% in February 2019 to 99.96% currently.

Despite the yearning of consumers for further bargain in the cost of data, it should be acknowledged that between 2015 and now, the cost of gigabyte of data has come down by 75%.

This has been confirmed in a study by Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s), a policy and regulation think-tank.

Among Danbatta’s initiatives making impact in the industry is the regime of efficient management of spectrum resource, which is boosting service availability, accessibility and affordability.

It could also be recalled that during one of the industry’s trying moments, Danbatta-led NCC, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), took a very proactive decision to rescue 9Mobile, one of the major mobile network operators, thereby saving jobs and billions of Naira worth of investment.

Pantami tasks Danbatta, NCC on digital economy

Danbatta’s regulatory finesse was also behind the listing of telcos such as MTN and Airtel on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, needless to say their listing has improved the performance of the country’s capital market outlook.

Nigerians had almost given up on witnessing a harmonised emergency communication line in the fashion of 911.

It is therefore another major feat by Danbatta that 18 emergency communications centres have now been commissioned, and the nation’s 112 emergency line is  functional in 17 states and Federal Capital territory (FCT), Abuja,

But Danbatta’s leadership of the industry also witnessed an increased attention to innovation, research and development– through providing substantial grants to academics and emerging young ICT entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Perhaps nothing underlines approval of Danbatta’s leadership like the platinum rating the NCC received from the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR) in 2017, the year he dedicated to the consumers of the industry.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in its “ICT Regulatory Tracker’ in 2019, also rated the Commission’s leadership in similar vein, for responsiveness, and dynamism in regulating the vibrant sector.

Musa, is the Special Assistant (Media) to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC

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Opinion

Meet unsung court registrar, Ustaz Sunusi Khalifa

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Ustaz Sunusi Khalifa, Principal Registrar of Chief Magistrate Court 9, Nomansland.

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

When our courts’ business has for long become a cash and carry business, when the attention your case gets depends on the amount of money you give, when everything smells and breathes of money, when even the welcome you get depends on how much you give, there stands out one person, alone on a very high moral ground, and to whom public service is a sacred trust that must be discharged against all odds, without expecting any benefits in return. His name is Sunusi (Khalifa). He is the Principal Registrar of Chief Magistrate Court 9, Nomansland.

He doesn’t ask for money. He is too noble to do that. Not only that, he only takes what is necessary from lawyers to render the services they require, compilation of record of proceedings in most cases.

I once gave him money as ‘deposit’ with the intention of giving him more when I came back for the records. He insisted that the ‘deposit’ was enough and I shouldn’t care to pay anything more. At another time I gave him what other registrars will definitely ask for more. Khalifa insisted that I should reduce something out of it as the amount I gave was too much for what I wanted.

For Khalifa, his salary is his consideration for which he is under an obligation to discharge duties. While other registrars will demand thousand of Naira to enroll order and have it signed, Khalifa does that as a matter of course, a normal course of business.

It is a pity that this rare gentleman is unheard and unsung. I have not heard of any award of excellence for him from the Branches, the MULAN or any other organization or association.

Heaven rewards. The world appreciates. I will be glad if Khalifa gets appreciated though he is not in need of it. It will, however, send a very strong message to those who make our court some sort of market places and our machinery of justice (or is it machinery of law) a booming business in which every situation is exploitable.

Kudos, bravo and gracias to my namesake. We are aware of your gentle and sterling qualities and I personally always tell your story. And I do so in the most colorful of language. Something like this:

‘There is a court registrar that never asks for money. If you need anything he only takes the exact cost. If you give him more than that, he will return the surplus and say “wannan kudin ai ya yi yawa”.’

Barrister Sunusi Umar Sadiq is a legal practitioner based in Kano

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RE: In defense of Salihu Tanko Yakasai

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Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Salihu Tanko Yakasai

The above article written by Sule Yau Sule, the spokesperson of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, might seem like a defence against my unlawful detention on 26th February 2021 in Kano, but soon after the first paragraph, it morphed into an attack on me while I was still in detention.

Though the writer superficially intended to “defend” me against the injustice meted against me for justifiably and conscientiously expressing my opinion on the current drift of the country toward cul-de-sac in apparent deviation from the vision of the ruling party to take the country away from the abyss in 2015, Sule Ya’u Sule ended up castigating me for simply exercising my constitutional rights of freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution.

The article also bordered around ethics and professionalism of the work of a spokesperson as highlighted by the learned writer. If he had stopped there, one would have taken it objectively and picked all the lessons therein, which truly, are valid and worthy of being noted. Unfortunately, the writer digressed far away from the subject matter and delved into politics, bringing to the forefront a grudge he has been nurturing against me for over a decade, because we were on opposing sides politically with his principal when we were in the defunct ANPP.

To set the record straight, I joined APP back in December 2000 and a couple of years later, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau equally joined partisan politics and contested for the governorship election in 2003. When I joined politics, Alhaji Al-Amin Ibrahim Little was the leader of the party in the state, but when he lost the party to Shekarau and decamped to PRP, I remained in APP and went on to serve as the returning officer for Shekarau’s election, which he eventually won largely due to Buhari’s huge influence. But soon after that, Shekarau drew the line against us, Buhari’s supporters in the state, which birthed our rivalry with the Shekarau’s camp. My political mentor then was Hon. Balarabe Wakili who was instrumental in Shekarau becoming a member of the APP at that time. This was the genesis of our crises in Kano APP which led to our exit from the party in 2011 to form CPC.

I was in my mid 30s during the 2011 general elections and, of course, I went all out in my attacks on Shekarau which I later regretted and posted on my Facebook page, apologising for such a behavior; a post which is still there on my page if he wishes to look it up. I do remember Sule Ya’u Sule’s call one evening, a few days before I made the apology, and in that call, he gave me some sound advice on the choice of words whenever criticising Shekarau, a point I took to heart, and unlike what he has stated in his recent article, I have never attacked Shekarau again after that phone call till date.

Now back to the part of the article in which he has talked about ethics and what not. I am a person that take corrections to heart and I have picked all his points like a student in his class. But you see, the funny part about life is that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Let me refresh Sule Ya’u Sule’s memory about how when he was the spokesperson of the then Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, he fabricated a letter allegedly from the EFCC claiming that Shekarau had been cleared of all charges, which turned out to be a big lie, thereby causing a huge embarrassment to his principal to the extent that he was suspended for six months only to be reinstated after several pleas and interventions.

As stated by Sule in his article, “A spokesperson’s best tools are decorum, decency, belief and passion.” So I ask Sule, is embarrassing your principal also among the tools of a spokesperson? May I also ask, what punishment did he receive from NIPR at that time? If he did not receive any, perhaps he should include it in his note to the professional body in order to come up with a suitable punishment against others that will try to emulate him and ridicule their principals with fake clearance letters.

Let me also take this opportunity to set the record straight on the issue of my comments that resulted in my unlawful detention. I neither planned it nor did I have the intention of provoking such reactions. It was a spontaneous reaction on my part triggered by a number of the recent rise of insecurity in the country particularly in the north. I have personally suffered two major security issues in the last four months; the murder of my younger sister’s husband in Bauchi in front of my sister and her kids and the kidnapping of my sister’s husband’s younger brother in his house in Kaduna. N5 million had to be paid as a ransom to secure his release and in the process of raising the money, armed robbers carted away N1 million of the amount. I was certainly not thinking about ethics when I reacted to the devastating news of the abduction of the over 300 Zamfara girls. I believe anyone with a tiny bit of conscience will certainly be moved by the abduction.

Perhaps Sule is too pre-occupied with enforcing PR ethics of a spokesperson that he has lost all his conscience to the extent that he cannot see that I am a human, which comes first, before any ethics or even a temporary position that I will not occupy for life.

On a final note, though Sule is a PhD holder in Mass Communications and a professional by all standards in the field, both in terms of qualifications and experience, when it comes to human relations, I believe he is merely a kindergarten pupil. If he truly regards me as a brother as he had claimed in the article, he would not have written such a politicised opinion at a moment when I was still in unlawful detention and my family and friends were equally terrified as to what might happen to me. Irrespective of whether I was out of line or not, that is certainly not the action of someone you consider a brother. I remember when I was first appointed as the Director-General, Media in 2016, the first thing I did was to pay a visit to my predecessors to seek for their blessings and guidance, namely: Baba Halilu Dantiye, late Umar Saidu Tudun Wada and Sule Ya’u Sule. Sule promised to provide me with all the support I needed to execute my work, but little did I know that he was holding a decade-long grudge against me. Indeed with friends like Sule, who needs enemies?

Salihu Tanko Yakasai (Dawisu) is the Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Community Kano Hub of the World Economic Forum. 

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Salihu Tanko: Ganduje playing politics with aides’ sack – Shaaban Sharada

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I read with dismay a statement by the sacked media aide of Kano state governor in the person of Salihu Tanko Yakasai that the All Progressives Congress led- government has failed Nigerians while calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign.

It is unfortunate to see such a controversial statement coming from an aide of a governor of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) despite efforts of the APC Extraordinary Convention Committee led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni.

The statement is uncalled for and smacks of an attempted sabotage to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and it further brings to the fore the ignorance of the said aide on how security architecture works.

Since the abduction of the Jangebe Students, I have spoken with relevant security chiefs who have assured me of efforts they are making to rescue the girls safely.

In defense of Salihu Tanko Yakasai

My relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari – Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Instead of Yakasai to exploit his privilege by praying for the successful rescue of the school girls by security operatives under the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, he is rather ridiculing their efforts through a series of unwarranted media attacks that are seen as an attempt to instigate fear in the victims’ parents and mislead the general public to tarnish the image of the APC led government.

Buhari has improved security

It is on record that the security situation of the country has improved since the assumption of Buhari as President.

Essentially, the nature of insecurity prior to the Buhari administration is different from the current security situation in the country.

If you could recall, there was a time when our daughters, sisters and wives of both basic and tertiary institutions cannot go to school without going through a thorough search.

The market was a no go place, places of worship became  places to  fear, while a one or two hours journey became a 10-hour journey due to stop and searches by security men on the roads.

All those measures did not stop terrorists from bombing mosques, churches, markets, and motor parks etc.

A typical example is the 2014 Kano central mosque bomb blast that claimed the lives of more than 1,000  people in a day.

The insecurity was not restricted to the North West and North East alone, as it escalated to the Federal Capital Territory where terrorists attacked the United Nations building in Abuja.

It is a mark of the improved security situation in the country that the recently abducted Kagara Students were released last Saturday.

The process that the government followed in ensuring the release of these students safely will be applied to rescue the Jangebe Students In sha Allah as I’ve been assured by the relevant security agencies and the governor of the state as well.

Yakasai playing Ganduje’s script

Yakasai’s attack is not surprising though, as he might be acting under the command of his principal, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje who is known for speaking from both sides of his mouth.

Ganduje had last year suspended Yakasai over a statement accusing the President of lacking empathy during the EndSARS protest.

Attack on Buhari: Ganduje suspends media aide

It was alleged that the governor planned the suspension like a movie where he promised to reinstate him back. This came to pass some months later.

It is obvious that his current purported sack has a political undertone.

It would be recalled that one of Ganduje’s Commissioners celebrated the death of Chief of Staff Mallam Abba Kyari last year.

The governor in his usual manner of playing to the gallery and after pressure by Nigerians decided to sack the Commissioner but later appointed him  to serve in various government committees including the Chairmanship of the  AKK Gas Pipeline implementation Committee in Kano.

This is how the governor is working closely with people that personally berate President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ganduje sabotaging the APC

Ganduje’s sabotage does not stop there; he has a good relationship with members of the opposition whom he appointed into juicy positions while other party members are kept aside.

Example of this is the Commissioner for water resources who is a card carrying member of the PDP.

His anti-party activities against the All Progressives Congress and other efforts he is making in frustrating party members in the state is an attempt to weaken the party because he has sensed that his political ambition in 2023 is looking unachievable.

A Commissioner for Education in his government was also seen displaying a ballot paper where he voted for PDP in the recent bye election at Kiru/Bebeji Constituency.

This is a sabotage to our party at a time we are trying to reconcile warring party members across states to further strengthen the capacity of the APC in the 2023 election.

The recent party registration and revalidation exercise in Kano was not a success as Ganduje was the decider of who should be registered or not as the revalidation documents were domiciled in the government house.

I’m a victim of this as I was denied revalidation of my APC membership at my ward in Sharada, despite being a stakeholder and member of the House of Representatives in the state.

Even an ordinary member of the party doesn’t deserve this, especially when the party is targeting 25 million members.

Why is this injustice being meted out on members of the defunct CPC and loyalists of President Buhari?

Of all the Commissioners down to local government Chairmen and top government appointees, there is none from the defunct CPC.

I’m in contact with relevant security agencies and I am aware of efforts they are making to restore the security of our dear nation.

Nigeria is one, we should keep ethnic, religious and political sentiments aside, and we should tell the truth in real sense and not personal attack.

As a loyalist of the President who has worked closely with him, I know his commitment to seeing a prosperous, peaceful and united Nigeria.

His patriotism, transparency, and accountability is a testimony to his love for this country.

Hon. Shaaban Ibrahim Sharada represents Kano Municipal in the House of Representatives and chairs the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence.

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