The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC has appealed to all stakeholders and consumers of telecom services to defend all telecoms infrastructure spread across the country from undue interference by hoodlums for improved quality of service.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta made the appeal on Thursday at the sensitization programme on the protection of telecoms infrastructure held at Abdusalam Abubakar Youth Centre, Minna Niger State. Prof. Danbatta, who was represented at the occasion by the Head of Zonal Operation, North Central, Ms Helen Obi said the sensitization workshop on protection of telecoms infrastructure as critical national assets was to enlighten the public and stakeholders on the need to protect telecom infrastructure within their communities and to treat them as collective heritage. He noted that the workshop was also intended to present a platform to address concerns usually expressed by the public about telecom infrastructure. The NCC boss who lamented the pervading challenges of seamless provision of telecom services in the country, said protection of existing infrastructure and increase in deployment of robust critical telecom infrastructure was imperative for attainment of the 30% broadband penetration target by end of 2018. “These facilities have been targets of vandalism, theft and hostility in some communities. It is therefore imperative for the public to regard telecom facilities as collective owned infrastructure that are crucial and essential for provision of efficient and acceptably quality of service. She said, “part of our mandate is to engage service providers and we are also to ensure technical regulations and set prices and tariffs. Generally, it is our mandate to create a level playing field for investors in the telecom industry. NCC is equally charged with the mandate to protect telecom consumers so that they are not unduly taken advantage of by service providers by making sure that there is acceptable quality of service in the industry. ‘‘What we hope to achieve is to sensitive the consumers and stakeholders and even the agencies of federal, state and local governments on the need to protect telecom infrastructure, keying into the 8 Point Agenda of our chief executive, which seeks to ensure high quality of service and broadband penetration. ‘‘Vandalizing this infrastructure compromises effort of government to achieve the 30% target for broadband penetration for 2018. NCC so far has achieved 22 percent and we are making sure that we achieve the remaining 8 percent. ‘‘Telecom infrastructure is infrastructure that serve all of us beneficially. We need to work collectively and work against its vandalism so that it can serve the purpose it is meant for. ‘‘Vandalism destroys the infrastructure that feed services being renderd by the service providers. This is why we must treat telecom infrastructure as a common asset,’’ she added. On the delay in the passage of the telecom industry bill at the National Assembly, Obi said NCC is engaging as much as possible the National Assembly in this regard, “maybe legislative processes has been delaying but I know that NCC has not rested on its oars to make sure that that bill is timely passed.” In his paper presentation, Engr. Lawal Bello of the Technical department of NCC, said the telecom industry is facing a lot of challenges from power, multiple taxation and vandalism, which hampers the effort of government to provide ubiquitous telecom services in the country. He described the workshop as a clarion call to consumers, traditional rulers and government agencies to ensure that the critical telecom assets are fully protected. ‘‘The spate of telecom infrastructure has resulted to slow down of services. There is need for National Assembly to pass the Telecom Industry Bill and declare the infrastructure critical national assets. ‘‘Critical infrastructure does not only affect one person but all. Telecom infrastructure bill when passed into law will increase quality of service in Nigeria.’’ In his response, the Head of Service to the Niger State Government, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Human Resource Development Department, Mr. Abubakar Salisu urged the NCC to create a special incentive for states to encourage them protect the telecom infrastructure in their domain. Also speaking, Ahjia Asmawo Baba said ‘‘I am glad to be here, at least NCC have been able to make us understand that the telecom masts around the residential areas are not harmful. At least I now know that when I have problem, I can channel them to NCC for address. ‘‘In a society where we think government provides everything we need, it is good we have community involvement. We live with these people in the community, if we become our community watch, even with all these crisis like Boko Haram, such crisis will addressed. It is good they go round. This is a good development.’’