Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, says the Federal Government has no plans to strip the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) of its powers.
Pantami gave this clarification while making a presentation at the 19th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Scorecard from 2015 to 2023, on Thursday, in Abuja.
He refuted insinuations that the ministry designed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to take the powers of NCC.
According to him, both the NCC Act 2003 and NITDA Act 2007 were obsolete and long overdue for review.
This, he said is due to the imperatives of new technologies.
He pointed out that the old acts did not address the fourth industrial revolution and emerging technologies.
“We are talking about Fourth Generation (4G) Technology and Fifth Generation (5G) Technology today as well as the digital economy.
“The NITDA Act was specifically on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, while the NCC Act dwells more on telecommunications.
“I had a meeting with the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC and the Director-General of NITDA and I directed them to work together.
“There was an agreement that both acts need amendments.
“NITDA had over 30 stakeholders’ engagements and I am sure NCC too.
“It is unfair that someone will say because I was once Director-General of NITDA and, therefore, I tilted towards NITDA,” the minister said.
He also said that he stood his ground for the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) over stamp duty issues.
“I protected NCC recently when an agency took N42 billion belonging to it.
“The higher authority asked the agency to return the money to the NCC.
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“I stood my ground for NIPOST over stamp duty issues.
The late Boko Haram leader threatened my life when we insisted on the implementation of National Identification Numbers (NIN) and Subscribers Identity Modules (SIM) linkage.”
The minister said that based on the assessment of independent consultants engaged by the Federal Government, the ministry’s scorecard was graded “A” in all the eight priority areas assigned to it by President Buhari.
According to him, broadband penetration as of November 2022 stood at 46.2 per cent.
“Quarterly revenue generation from the ICT sector at N408 billion.
“Employment generation in the digital economy sector alone at 2.2 million Nigerians within the last three years.
“The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) was able to capture NIN of over 95 million citizens on its database within two years,” Pantami said.
This is a milestone compared to figures of 39 million Nigerians captured by the same agency for 13 years.
Through the implementation of the e-governance policy, he said, the ministry saved over N47 billion for the Federal Government.
The minister also said that he inherited only one national policy, but presently, the ministry is implementing 19 national policies.
Eighteen Nigerian universities, he said, are being provided with unlimited broadband access (free Internet services).
Twenty Nigerian markets are also benefitting from such gestures free of charge.
Pantami said that all the policies being implemented by this administration would be concluded before May 29.
he added that President Buhari would also inaugurate the N12 billion National Centre for Digital Innovation in Abuja.
He identified deficits in infrastructure and vandalism of fibre optic cables as the challenges facing the telecommunications industry.
In one particular year, he said, the ministry recorded 13,000 cases of vandalism of fibre optic cables across the country.
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