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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

[Friday Sermon] IPOB Killings: An Invitation To Another Civil War In Nigeria!

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By Imam Murtadha Gusau

 

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation. May the salutations of Allah, His peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet, his family, his companions and his true and sincere followers until the Last Day – then to proceed:

Dear brothers and sisters! The terrorist group and Members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, on Sunday mercilessly killed 12 people from the Northern Nigeria, including a pregnant woman, her four children and eight others at Isulo, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The slain woman was identified as Harirah Jibril, 32, while the four children were identified as Fatimah, 9; Khadijah, 7; Azizah, 5 and; Zaitunah, 2.

The terrorists waylaid them on their way back home after a visit to Orumba North. The slain woman was a native of Adamawa State.

And as I’m talking to you now all Hausa people from the North have completely deserted Ihiala, following heightened attacks on non-natives in the area.

The unprovoked evictions, attacks, killings, destructions of properties and other forms of violations against northerners in various parts of the South East had resulted from the hate campaigns and propaganda being conducted by regional and ethnic agitators.

These killings followed other coordinated attacks on northern traders and haulage trucks, killing some people and destroying millions worth of properties including the truck.

We strongly condemn these killings. It is brutish, horrendous and barbaric. No family deserves to be wiped out in this manner.

And we call on the security agencies to smoke out the killers and bring them to justice. At the same time, we ask all men of conscience to speak up and condemn this barbaric killing.

For peace to reign and to avoid reprisal killings in other side of the country our people must have the liberty to exercising their freedom of movement in Southeastern part of the country, we’re law abiding citizens, we, therefore, warn that these killings should stop forthwith, as the blood of our people can’t be used as a sacrifice to keep Nigeria as one.

Once again, we wish to call on security agencies to intensify efforts in ensuring the lawless elements behind the killings are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.

We also appeal to our people in the North not to retaliate. Because vengeance will only ignite a cycle of violence. Nigeria needs peace at this crucial time. Therefore, nobody should embark on reprisal killing please. It will only compound the problem.

Respected brothers and sisters! One of the distinctive characteristics of the times we live in is the overwhelming presence of bloodshed, crisis and violence in our societies. Whether it is an IPOB attacks and killings to our people in Dei-Dei Abuja and southeast, or a tribal and religious attacks, or a kidnappings where innocent people are held at ransom to achieve political ends, we live in an age, where the manipulation and loss of innocent lives has become commonplace.

Such is the all-pervasive nature of indiscriminate violence, that terrorism is considered as one of the prime threats to peace and security in our societies.

The word terrorism came into wide usage only a few decades ago. But one of the unfortunate results of this new terminology is that it limits the definition of terrorism to that perpetrated by small groups or individuals. Terrorism, in fact, spans the entire world, and manifests itself in various forms. Its perpetrators do not fit any stereotype. Those who hold human lives cheap, and have the power to expend human lives, appear at different levels in our societies. The frustrated employee who kills his colleagues in cold-blood or the oppressed citizen of an occupied land who vents his anger by blowing up a school bus are terrorists who provoke our anger and revulsion. Ironically however, the politician who uses age-old ethnic animosities between peoples to consolidate his position, the head of state who orders “carpet bombing” of entire cities, the exalted councils that choke millions of civilians to death by wielding the insidious weapon of sanctions, the terrorist group like IPOB, who are killing the northerners living in their areas, are rarely punished for their crimes against humanity.

It is this narrow definition of terrorism that implicates only individuals and groups, that has caused Muslims to be associated with acts of destruction and terror, and as a result, to become victims of hate violence and terror themselves. Sometimes the religion of Islam is held responsible for the acts of a handful of Muslims, and often for the acts of non-Muslims!

Could it be possible that Islam, whose light ended the Dark Ages in Europe, now propound the advent of an age of terror? Could a faith that has over 2 billion followers the world over, and over 10 million in America, actually advocate the killing and maiming of innocent people? Could Islam, whose name itself stands for “peace” and “submission to Allah Almighty”, encourage its adherents to work for death and destruction?

For too long, have we relied on popular images in the media and in Hollywood films, for answers to these pertinent questions. It is now time to look at the sources of Islam, and its history to determine whether Islam does indeed advocate violence. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“…take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus do He command you, that you may learn wisdom.” [Qur’an, 6:151]

Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” [Qur’an, 5:32]

Such is the value of a single human life, that the Qur’an equates the taking of even one human life unjustly, with killing of all humanity. Thus, the Qur’an prohibits homicide in clear terms. The taking of a criminal’s life by the state in order to administer justice is required to uphold the rule of law, and the peace and security of the society. Only a proper and competent court can decide whether an individual has forfeited his right to life by disregarding the right to life and peace of other human beings.

Even in a state of war, Islam enjoins that one deals with the enemy nobly on the battlefield. Islam has drawn a clear line of distinction between the combatants and the non-combatants of the enemy country. As far as the non-combatant population is concerned such as women, children, the old and the infirm, etc., the instructions of the Prophet are as follows:

“Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman.” [Abu Dawud]

“Do not kill the monks in monasteries” or “Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship.” [Musnad of Imam Ahmad]

During a war, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saw the corpse of a woman lying on the ground and observed:

“She was not fighting. How then she came to be killed?”

Thus non-combatants are guaranteed security of life even if their state is at war with an Islamic state.

While Islam in general is misunderstood in the western world, perhaps no other Islamic term evokes such strong reactions as the word ‘jihad.’ The term ‘jihad’ has been much abused, to conjure up bizarre images of violent Muslims, forcing people to submit at the point of the sword. This myth was perpetuated throughout the centuries of mistrust during and after the Crusades. Unfortunately, it survives to this day.

The word Jihad comes from the root word jahada, which means to struggle. So jihad is literally an act of struggling. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said that the greatest jihad is to struggle with the insidious suggestions of one’s own soul. Thus jihad primarily refers to the inner struggle of being a person of virtue and submission to Allah in all aspects of life.

Secondarily, jihad refers to struggle against injustice. Islam, like many other religions, allows for armed self-defense, or retribution against tyranny, exploitation, and oppression. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? – Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from you one who will protect; and raise for us from you one who will help!” [Qur’an, 4:75]

Thus Islam enjoins upon its believers to strive utmost, in purifying themselves, as well as in establishing peace and justice in the society. A Muslim can never be at rest when he sees injustice and oppression around him. As Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Islam enjoins upon all Muslims to work actively to maintain the balance in which Allah created everything. However, regardless of how legitimate the cause may be, the Glorious Qur’an never condones the killing of innocent people. Terrorising the civilian population can never be termed as jihad and can never be reconciled with the teachings of Islam.

Even Western scholars have repudiated the myth of Muslims coercing others to convert. The great historian De Lacy O’Leary wrote:

“History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims, sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.” [Islam at Crossroads, London, 1923 page 8]

Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up until they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all have significant Christian and/or Jewish populations.

This is not surprising to a Muslim, for his faith prohibits him from forcing others to see his point of view. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hear and know all things.” [Qur’an, 2:256]

Far from being a militant dogma, Islam is a way of life that transcends race and ethnicity. The Glorious Qur’an repeatedly reminds us of our common origin:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” [Qur’an, 49:13]

Thus, it is the universality of its teachings that makes Islam the fastest growing religion in the world. In a world full of conflicts and deep schisms between human beings, a world that is threatened with terrorism, perpetrated by individuals and states, Islam is a beacon of light that offers hope for the future.

Fellow Nigerians! If you can remember, the same thing taking place today of hate campaigns, maltreatment, attacking and killing the northerners by Igbo people was what ignited the 1966 Nigerian civil war.

In August 1965 five Igbo Majors were beginning to plot a coup against incumbent Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. The coup was planned because the Majors as reported, were dissatisfied with the governments actions and that most Nigerian politicians were of Hausa or Fulani descent. In a memoir written by coup plotter Adewale Ademoyega he wrote:

“Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places, that seek bribes and demand 10%; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs.”

The coup plotters had five goals to achieve, to Strike simultaneously in regional capitals, arrest leading politicians-kill any who resist, avoid reprisals-kill all senior army officers, prevent troop movement-block Niger and Benue, and form a new Government. They planned to strike right before the Commonwealth Conference so that Tafawa Balewa would be distracted from any suspicious army movements.

In the weeks leading up to the coup Major Kaduna Nzeogwu carried out reconnaissance on Ahmadu Bello’s house in Kaduna. Nzeogwu often took his men on a night-time training exercise known as “Exercise Damisa” which was in actuality a practice run for a military coup. The commander of the 2nd Brigade, Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun, became irritated with the night-time exercises and reprimanded Nzeogwu in a telephone call to keep exercises a safe distance from Ahmadu Bello’s house. Although Ademulegun complained about the commotion he had no idea of the exercise’s true purpose. Nzeogwu’s control over his troops was so little that he had to conscript young soldiers from the Nigerian Military Training College at Kaduna. In the early hours on January 15, 1966 Nzeogwu decided to turn “Exercise Damisa” into a full blown military coup. Nzeogwu led his men to a bush adjacent to the house gates and informed them of their real mission. Nzeogwu and his men blew open the house gates and conducted a search of the residence, hunting for Ahmadu Bello Sardauna. After losing his temper at his initial failure to locate him, Nzeogwu found him with his wives. Ahmadu Bello was shot along with one of his wives who tried to shield him with her body. Also Ahmadu Bello’s faithful bodyguard came to defend him with a bow and arrows but was also shot.

So we have to be very very careful in order to avoid another civil war in Nigeria. Because if the killing of northerners in southeastern Nigeria continue, I’m assuring you that anything can happen…

All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Shawwal 26, 1443 AH (May 27, 2022).

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Opinion

Tribute to a late colleague, Baballe Mukhtari Fagge

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Abdu Usman

lnnalillihi wa ina ilaihi Rajuun

Allahu Akbar! Allahu!! 

It is with deep sorrow and grief that we received the report of the death of our beloved friend and colleague in the journalism profession Malam Baballe Mukhtar Fagge. 

Aged 67, Malam Baballe Fagge passed away on the eve of Sunday night at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Kano (AKTH) after a protracted illness and his remains buried Monday morning at Tarauni Central Graveyard, Kano.

A veteran broadcaster, pioneer staff of then CTV (ARTV), senior reporter at Radio Kano who earlier served at American Embassy Kaduna until his last minute of breath was working with Express FM Radio.

Malam Baballe Mukhtar Fagge, a hardworking and committed personality who devoted most of his life to the development and progress of his community and people of Kano State, is survived by a wife, many children and relatives.

Indeed, the deceased will be long remembered by his colleagues, particularly those in media circles who either work or had in contact with him at various points.

At this juncture, we once again extended our condolences to the deceased’s immediate family as well as entire members of NUJ across the country.

May Allah SWT forgive his shortcomings and grant his family strength and courage to bear the sad bereavement. Amin.

Hakika munyi rashin aboki. Allah ya jikansa da gafara ya kuma ba wa iyalansa da ‘yan uwansa da sauran abokansa hakurin rashin. Amin.

Abdu Usman

is a former Press Secretary to former Secretary to the State Government Alhaji Rabiu Sulaiman Bichi 

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Opinion

Pillars slips into relegation as team plays home matches in Abuja 

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Jamilu Ubah Adamu

Before the kick-off of the current campaign of the Nigeria Professional Football League season, no one ever envisaged four-time elite Nigerian league winners, Kano Pillars, would be battling relegation.

But football can be cruel, at times, as the Sai Masu Gida are presently dashing points both home and away, and are doing everything physically and spiritually never to avoid the shame of relegation to the lower league.

Pillars who are seen to have the largest fan-base in the local league have only ten matches remaining to play before the end of the season. Five of those matches are home, while the remaining are on the road. With their current poor performance, it’s unlikely that the Sai Masu Gida would win all five home matches and snatch some vital points on the road to guarantee safety, unless the impossible happens.

This is made even more complicated owing to the fact that they have been playing their home games on away territory, lacking in the ever vociferous support of their untiring and undying fans.

It is, however, hoped that the former League and Aiteo Federation Cup champions would defy the odds by ensuring they do not falter in their remaining ten games, whether home or away.

Sitting at the 19th position with 29 points from 27 games and a suspended three point deduction by LMC, due to a reoccurrence of violence by their fans, the world of football is keenly watching how the cash-strapped club will respond to their current predicament, and should it happen, it will be one of the wonders in club football, not only in Nigeria but across the globe, in modern times.

For the large followers of the Club and lovers of football, they would not want to see Kano Pillars relegated as they command a huge aura of history in the domestic elite league, including producing the likes of Super Eagles’ captain, Ahmed Musa, and legendary Rabiu Ali (Pele), to mention but a few.

Below is Kano Pillars’ remaining Fixture:

1. Kano Pillars vs. Heartland FC – Home.

2. Remo Stars vs. Kano Pillars – Away.

3. Kano Pillars vs. Dakkada FC – Home.

4. Plateau United vs. Kano Pillars FC – Away

5. Kano Pillars vs. Wikki Tourists FC – Home.

6. Abia Warriors vs. Kano Pillars – Away.

7. Kano Pillars vs. Enugu Rangers Int’l – Home.

8. Rivers United vs. Kano Pillars – Away.

9. Nasarawa United vs. Kano Pillars – Away.

10. Kano Pillars vs.Shooting Stars – Home

The above fixtures are pretty cheeky and difficult to predict Kano Pillars’ ascendancy over their opponents, making it difficult to assuage that  relegation won’t stare at their face this season.

But as earlier explained, football can be cruel and it’s an  unpredictable sport.

As a son of the soil and unrepentant fan of the Sai Masu Gida, I wish them all the best in their endeavours!!!

Jamilu Uba Adamu

is a football analyst and can be reached via +234 803 207 8489

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