By Anthony Nwosu and Oluwatobi Opusunju
The new board of theNigerian Communications Commission (NCC) headed by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye has been inaugurated by Communications Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shittu yesterday in Abuja to effectively allow the commission carries out its statutory mandate.
The NCC has been without a board for more than a year in what observers believed had weakened its globally acclaimed regulatory independence particularly following the MTN Nigeria penalty saga. Many believed the existence of a board would have helped to better manage the controversy that followed the imposition of the fine.
The NCC had in October 2015 penalised MTN Nigeria with $5.2 billion fine for the telco’s inability to disconnect 5.2 million unregistered subscribers on its network. The penalty which was based on section 20(1) of the Telephone Subscribers regulation (TSR) law would later attract diplomatic and court actions with interventions by various interests that include the Ministry of Communications, the National Assembly and even the presidency in what observers could have been effectively managed as strictly a regulator’s affair if a board were in existence.
The new board would now sit to work even as the Shittu charged it to help strengthen the telecoms sector as an “enabler for sustainable development”.
Shittu explained that the many years of telecoms revolution in Nigeria have been quite rewarding although more still needs to be done by the stakeholders, “in order to continue the auspicious march toward fully transforming Nigeria into a truly digital and knowledge-based economy”.
According to him, a National ICT Roadmap has been put in place with a commitment to refocus the Telecoms sector as an enabler for sustainable development”. This he said, will enable the country optimise opportunities for wealth and job creation as well as increase revenue generation for government.
The world is increasingly being technology-driven and ICT remains a key driver of the economy of all progressive nations, Shittu said.
In an official statement signed by the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, Shittu also tasked the board to seek ways of ensuring that non-sectors such as telecommunications assume greater value in sustaining the national economy.
“Attention must shift to other critical sectors that can re-galvanize our economy. Consequently, leveraging on telecommunications and information technology is now obligatory”, said Shittuin Abuja.
Riding on the crest of the NCC Act 2003, the Minister listed some of the board’s responsibilities to include but not limited to:
- Formulating several policies for the regulation and development of the Communications industry;
- Considering and approving the yearly budget of the Commission and as may be presented to the Board by Management;
- Ensuring that the Commission is manifestly seen to be a responsible corporate citizen, having regard not only to financial aspects of the Commission but also to the impact its operations have on its stakeholders, the environment and all parts of the country;
- Provision of the effective leadership on an ethical foundation by ensuring that issues of ethics are managed effectively; among others
Responding on behalf of the board, Durojaiye thanked Mr. President “for giving us the opportunity to serve our nation. We want to assure the President and members of the public that by the grace of God we will not disappoint the nation”.
Durojaiye added that the board members will @try our best to ensure a level playing ground for operators in the industry and ensure they play the game according to the rules”.
Apart from Durojaiye, the other members of the board include Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Mr. Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management). The non-executive Commissioners include Mr. Clement Omeiza Baiye and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.