THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has embarked on a roadshow campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of vandalising telecom infrastructure in the country. During the flag off of the campaign in Lagos, Charles Oputa a.k.a Charlie boy, led motorcycle riders round the city of Lagos as part of the effort to sensitise the public to protect telecoms infrastructure.
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, EVC, of the NCC, who was represented by Tony Ojobo, director, Public Affairs, at the event, said that nearly 17 years after the return of democratic governance to Nigeria, telecommunications remains the biggest dividend from this democracy that ought to be protected.
Danbatta pointed out that more than 80 million people have access to the Internet, 152 million active telephone lines as at November, 2015, adding that “telecommunications has become an indispensable device in the hands of most Nigerians”.
According to him, telecommunications is also one of the biggest contributors to the national Gross Domestic Product, GDP, with more than 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.
But he regretted that the benefits and all the useful services enjoyed today from telecom industry are threatened by the spate of vandalisation of telecom infrastructure across the country which included cutting of cables, destruction of base stations, stealing of standby generators and pilfering of telecoms equipment in 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 vandalisation of telecom infrastructure. We need to be more vigilant. We need to report any form of vandalisation to security agencies. In the existing laws of this country, vandalisation of telecom infrastructure carries heavy penalties including a jail term if found culpable. In addition, the commission is currently consulting with our law makers to finalise on a Bill called Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill which seeks to treat all telecom infrastructure as public property, to be protected as such.
He called on National Assembly to give urgent consideration in passing the bill into law in order to give more legal teeth for prosecuting offenders and enable the NCC protect telecom infrastructure for the benefit of our citizens.
He disclosed that NCC is “working round the clock to ensure that broadband services are also available for the Nigerian populace. When broadband is fully available, it will advance the sophistication and speed with which we carry out our various activities within the telecom industry.
— Feb 8, 2016 @ 11:00 GMT