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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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Unusual signs may emerge on Laylatul Qadr – Alakarmawi

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Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi

Nasiru Yusuf

A renowned Islamic scholar in Kano Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi said it is sometimes possible to witness unusual signs on Laylatul Qadr.

Kano Focus reports that Sheikh Alkarmawi revealed this while delivering his Friday sermon.

He said Laylatul Qadr is one of the most sacred nights in Islam found in the last ten days of Ramadan.

According to him it is sometimes possible to witness unusual signs on the night.

Some of the signs highlighted by the Imam is the night is serene, quiet and shining where the temperature is neither hot nor cold and the moon shines clearly.

Sheikh Alkarmawi said Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him used to double effort in the last ten days of Ramadan aimed at witnessing the night.

He described as a weak a narration wich declared twenty seventh night of Ramadan as Laylatul Qadr, and urged adherents to seek the night in the last ten days of the holy month.

On the recommended acts in the night, Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi cited a hadith narrated by Nana Aisha which prophet taught Muslims to recite ‘Allahumma innaka afuwun, tuhibbul afwa, fa’afu anna.

He also admonished faithful on supplication, forgiveness, upholding good deeds and assisting the needy.

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Opinion

Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu at 65

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Professor Abdalla Adamu

By Ibrahim Sheme

On this day, April 25, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, clocked 65 years.

He was the VC of NOUN from 2016 to February 11, 2021. When his tenure ended, he returned to his former duty post at Bayero University, Kano, but then took sabbatical work as Visitor at Kaduna State University (KASU), Kaduna, on March 1, this year.

Born in Kano City on April 25, 1956, Adamu is unarguably one of the leading academic lights in Nigeria. He obtained a professorship each in Science Education and in Media and Cultural Communication, both from Bayero University, in 1997 and 2012 respectively. Indeed, he is one of very few academics in the country to have attained the feat of a double professorship.

Adamu is an international scholar, having taught media and science education courses in many Nigerian universities and around the world, including serving as a European Union Visiting Professor at University of Warsaw, Poland, in 2012, visiting professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey, and visiting professor, University of Florida in 2010. He was also Fulbright African Senior Research Scholar in 1991.

One other remarkable achievement he recorded was the development of ‘hooked’ Hausa language character font sets (ɓ Ɓ ɗ Ɗ ƙ Ƙ), which were not present at the advent of the Internet. The emergence of these fonts, which he created as part of his various extracurricular activities, has helped many authors, publishers, scholars, students and ordinary users in conveying the Hausa language in a way that it should be written.

Two years ago, on a day like this, I penned a birthday tribute to Professor Adamu to help celebrate his 63rd anniversary. In that write-up I did not dwell on his unfolding accomplishments at NOUN in the area of infrastructural development of the university because others had done so already. Instead, I emphasised on the then VC’s human relation, which I have always found unique. And I wrote: “On that score Prof. Abdalla has remained the same person I have known for about two decades – easy-going, humorous and understanding towards all. I think this essence is a great contributory factor to the achievements he is making as a leader and chief executive.

“His approachability is rare. I know chief executives who are ‘feared’ – and consequently loathed – by those working under them because of their stiffness and unbendability. Some, you strictly need an appointment to see them, and their secretaries become lords because they emulate the ‘man inside’.  Not Baba Prof (as we used to call him). He runs an open door policy, with a  secretary (Esther) just as approachable and nice as he is.

“Once you get into his office, you immediately feel at home. He has a joke for everyone. You will never find him mirthless or sad as if the whole world rests on his shoulders. If it is lunch-time, he offers you his food.

“That sense of humanity, for me, are as important as the infrastructure he is putting on ground at NOUN. That sensibility, plus the infrastructure and the policy transformation, will no doubt count as his best legacies when his tenure ends in February, 2021.”

I daresay many at NOUN would remember him for such virtue. Happily, his successor as VC, Professor Olufemi A. Peters, is another approachable chief executive who doesn’t put on airs. Even though the two men do not necessarily share the same character traits, one can say there are several points of convergence that one can easily point at – but that is a story for another day.

Meanwhile, I’d like to use this opportunity to wish Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu happy birthday and many happy returns.

Sheme is the Director, media and publicity at National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja

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Opinion

Remembering Ja’afar Mahmud Adam

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Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga

Sheikh Ja’afar foresaw the imminent monster called Boko Haram, but was brutally silenced by the assassins bullets!

Today marks the 14th Anniversary of the assassination  Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, who was fatally shot by yet to be identified gunmen on April 13, 2007. His death was like a defoliation of the tallest tree in the forest of knowledge. He was one of the greatest preachers that ever lived; he was a scholar par excellence. In fact, he defies all the superlatives that you can ever find in  the dictionary.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was not only famous for his erudition, but also for his amazing ability to foresee an imminent danger(what today becomes known as Boko Haram). He posed the most potent intellectual challenge to the outlandish and poisonous extremist ideas of Muhammad Yusuf, the notorious Boko Haram founder. He advised Yusuf, his former student, to renounce those dangerous ideas and apologize to his blind followers for misleading them.

Caught between ego and doing the right thing, Muhammad Yusuf rejected the advice because he didn’t want to lose face by admitting to his brainwashed followers that he was wrong. The rest is history. We are today paying heavily for his stubborn resistance to reason. His poisonous ideas have so deeply settled in the hearts and minds of his credulous Boko Haram  followers that they thought God is on their side and that  any Muslim  who opposes their violent extremism is automatically an infidel or an enemy.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was thus vindicated; the grave danger he foresaw is now consuming us, destroying lives, schools and disrupting our social and economic life. Since 2009, more than 15,000 lives were destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorism. Because extremism paralyses a man’s capacity to think and reason, the terrorists are not even perturbed by the consequences of their atrocities, let alone give a moment’s thought to compassion and humanity.

I won’t challenge anyone who thinks Boko Haram had a hand in Adam’s death because putting two and two together, it is impossible not to reach that conclusion. Because of their extreme brutality, taking out a scholar who represented the greatest intellectual challenge to their poisonous ideas is not beyond them.

May the soul Adam continue to rest in peace! May Allah  forgive his shortcomings and eternally  reward his great deeds! Amin!

NOTE: I originally wrote this tribute to Sheikh Jafar Adam on April 13, 2018. As we mark the 14th Anniversary of his dastardly assassination today, I find it worthy to reproduce the tribute. He was an extraordinary scholar that deserves such honour.

Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga is a media consultant at Atiku media organization

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