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‘Nigerians should protect telecoms infrastructure’

By Ibukun Igbasan
10 February 2016   |   2:05 am
THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has appealed to Nigerians to see telecommunications infrastructure as their own and protect it.
Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC Boss

Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC Boss

THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has appealed to Nigerians to see telecommunications infrastructure as their own and protect it.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who stated this at the weekend in Lagos to flag-off a roadshow campaign against telecommunications infrastructure vandalism, noted that nearly 17 years after the return of democratic governance to Nigeria, telecommunications remains the biggest dividend from this democracy.

“Over 80 million people have access to the Internet, 152 million active telephone lines as at November, 2015, so much that telecommunications has become an indispensable device in the hands of most Nigerians”, Danbatta explained.

Represented by NCC Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, the EVC said besides being the “biggest dividend in our growing democracy”, telecommunications is also one of the biggest contributors to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with over 10 per cent pushing up the economic growth and complementing government’s diversification into non-oil revenue in the face of dwindling oil price.

“Millions of Nigerians are directly and indirectly employed by the same industry, earning reasonable incomes”, he added.A worried Danbatta, however lamented that the benefits and all the useful services enjoyed today from telecommunications industry are being threatened “by the spate of vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure across the country”.

Besides slowing down the pace of growth and contributing to poor Quality of Service (QoS), there are vices arising from this including cutting of cables, destruction of base stations, stealing of generators and general pilfering of telecommunications equipment in some host communities.

“That is why we are here to campaign against vandalism and to tell our fellow citizens to be part of the war against vandalization of telecommunications infrastructure.

“We need to be more vigilant. We need to report any form of vandalization to security agencies. In the existing laws of this country, vandalization of telecommunications infrastructure carries heavy penalties including a jail term if found culpable. In addition, the Commission is currently consulting with our law makers to finalize on a Bill called Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill which seeks to treat all telecom infrastructure as public property, to be protected as such”.

“Today provides another unique opportunity to urge the National Legislature to give an urgent consideration in passing the bill into law in order to give more legal teeth in the prosecution of offenders and enable us protect telecommunications infrastructure for the benefit of our citizens.

“On our part as the regulator of the telecommunications industry, it is our desire to make Nigeria better, using telecommunications services.  It is our desire to improve on the varieties and quality of services that Nigerians are getting from the telecommunications industry.  It is our continued desire that telecommunications services are available to Nigerians wherever they may live, be it in the city, or in sub-urban or rural areas”.

According to him, the commission is working round the clock to ensure that broadband services are also available for the Nigerian populace.

He stressed that when broadband is fully available, it will advance the sophistication and speed with which we carry out our various activities within the telecommunications industry.