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FG to audit spectrum licences issued in last two decades

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami. Photo: TWITTER/DRISAPANTAMI

The Federal Government is planning to carry out frequency audit on all the spectrum licences issued from inception till date, in order to determine the amount paid, appropriate usage, and others issues around such licences.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, who disclosed this, said this became necessary to ensure that things are working according to plan.

He disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, during his inaugural meeting as Chairman of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC).

Pantami, who reinstated the autonomy of the NFMC, in accordance with the provisions of the Act establishing it, faulted the domiciling of the Council as a department under the ministry, citing Section 30(2) of the Act, which expressly states that officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy shall serve as Secretariat to the Council.

This, he emphasised, does not translate to the Council being reduced to the status of a department within the Ministry, as the independent status of the Council, is clearly maintained in the Act establishing it.

The Guardian checks showed that the NFMC was established by the Communications Act of 2003, which empowers the body, to coordinate and regulate spectrum license allocations, across regional and international borders.

Spectrum is described as the ‘Oxygen that sustains the wireless ecosystem’. In different parts of the world, organisations allot part of the electromagnetic spectrum to different users, even as international agreements are often required so that communications systems in neighbouring countries do not interfere with each other.

In October 2018, the NCC Director of Spectrum Administration, Austine Nwaulune, who assured that the commission has been doing everything regulatory to manage spectrum in the country told The Guardian that in the last one and half decade, the NCC has earned over N400 billion from spectrum sales, funds, which have been subsequently transferred to government coffers.

Meanwhile, Pantami at the meeting, disclosed that under his leadership, national interest must supersede sectoral or personal interests, emphasising that the protection of the consumer is paramount, while providing an enabling environment for industry players to thrive, within the dictates of the law.

The Minister inaugurated the NFMC/Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Joint Committee on evaluation of 450MHz Police equipment, in line with the provisions of the law empowering the Council to extend membership to competent and qualified persons or organisations that may assist it in the discharge of its duties.

Further discussions at the meeting showed that Pantami said the Council should be positioned properly as an autonomous body with the secretariat serviced by officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, as against its current status as a department under the ministry.

He equally stressed that the Management of regulatory bodies represented on the Council, particularly, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), should immediately propose subsidiary legislation to support the existing Act, for enhanced efficiency and fairness to the consumers, with regards to payment of Satellite Television stations and exploitation, by some of them.

According to a statement from the Ministry, signed the Spokesperson to the Minister, Uwa Suleiman, Pantami’s first meeting as NFMC Chairman, was the 48th of the council, and the fourth to be held this year.


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