The Federal Government of Nigeria says it has no plans to strip the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, of ​​its powers.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, revealed this in Abuja while addressing reporters during his presentation of his Ministry’s scorecard in the 19th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard series. from 2015 to 2023.

The Minister said there was not an iota of truth to suggestions that the National Information Technology Development Agency, the NITDA bill currently before the National Assembly for review, was designed to usurp the powers of the NCC. .

Professor Pantami explained that both the 2003 NCC Act and the 2007 NITDA Act were outdated and long overdue for revision due to new technology imperatives, as the old laws did not address the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Emerging Technologies. .

Explaining the genesis of banknotes, Pantami further explains:

We are talking about Fourth Generation Technology (4G) and Fifth Generation Technology (5G) today, as well as the digital economy, but the NITDA Act specifically referred to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. , while the NCC Law focuses more on telecommunications, ” He said.

Professor Pantami advocated for the continuous working relationship between the agencies of the Ministry to achieve the desired goal of the federal government.

I had a meeting with the Executive Vice President of NCC and the CEO of NITDA at the beginning, and asked them to work together. And there was an agreement that both laws needed to be amended. NITDA had over 30 stakeholder engagements and I’m sure NCC participated and had their own as well. It is unfair for someone to say this because I was once the Director General of NITDA and therefore leaned towards NITDA.

“I protected NCC recently when an agency took 42 billion naira from it. The highest authority asked the Agency to return the money to the NCC.

“I defended myself against NIPOST over stamp issues and my life was threatened by the late Boko Haram leader when we insisted on the implementation of linking Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) with National Identity Numbers (NINs), stated the Minister.

Pantami, who insisted that the executive vice president of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, must make clarifications in this regard, maintained that what is being done regarding the amendments to the NITDA and NCC laws is the best for the country.

While noting the achievements in the ICT sector over the past three years, Pantami said that according to an assessment by independent consultants hired by the Federal Government, his Ministry’s scorecard was at “A” in all eight areas. priorities assigned to him by President Muhammadu. Buhari.

It listed broadband penetration as of November 2022 at 46.2 percent, quarterly revenue generation from the ICT sector at 408 billion naira and employment generation in the digital economy sector alone at 2.2. million Nigerians in the last two years.

On the subject of registration of National Identity Numbers (NIN), he said that the “The National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, was able to capture the NIN of more than 95 million citizens in its database in two years compared to a figure of 39 million Nigerians captured by the same agency over 13 years.

The Minister further explained that through the implementation of the current administration’s e-government policy, more than 47 billion naira has been saved for the government, stressing that he inherited only one National Policy, but to date, 19 National policies are being implemented by the Ministry.

On the challenges in the telecommunication industry, Professor Pantami said that they are due to the infrastructure deficit and fiber optic cable vandalism, adding that in a particular year, nearly 13,000 cases of fiber cable vandalism were recorded. optics in different places throughout the country. country.

The minister assured that all the projects implemented by President Buhari’s administration will be concluded before May 29 this year, as President Buhari will also inaugurate the 12 billion naira National Digital Innovation Center located in Abuja.

Pantami said that all well-meaning Nigerians should praise the president for the far-reaching policies put in place by his administration to change the narratives of the digital economy space and improve people’s living standards.

Under Buhari’s administration, 18 Nigerian universities receive unlimited broadband access (free internet services) and 20 Nigerian markets also benefit from these gestures for free, Pantami claimed.

Dominica Nwabufo