…Swears in 4 new NCC Board members
The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, has thumped up the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for quick implementation of his directive to the Commission to tackle over 9.2 invalidly-registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, saying the NCC has worked with MNOs to reduce the number by 73.61 per cent within one week.
The Minister gave the commendation during the presentation and oath-taking of four new members of Board of Commissioners of the NCC, already cleared by the Senate, to him in his office on Monday, September 16, 2019 in Abuja.
The new NCC board members were presented to the Minister by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, the NCC Board Chairman, and in attendance were the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Clement Baiye, a non-executive commissioner on the Board of NCC, other senior management members of the Commission, officials of the Ministry, other industry stakeholders and members of the press.
At the occasion, the oath of office was subsequently administered on the new board members including Engr. Ubale Maska, as Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Prof. Millionaire Abowei; Salman Abdul-Azeez and Aliyu Abubakar, three of who are non-executive commissioners.
While congratulating the new members over their appointments by the President, Pantami urged them to “work together with existing board members of the Commission on how we can effectively utilise telecoms and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in general to support the tripartite agenda of the President to improve security, improve economy and reduce poverty as well as fight corruption.”
Pantami further enjoined the Board members to work harmoniously with each other and leverage their wealth of experience to double the contribution of ICT to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next coming years.
According to him, “By the second quarter of this year, ICT had contributed 13.86 per cent to the country’s GDP and this is encouraging. Generally, non-oil’s GDP contribution to economy was 91 per cent. The NCC has played a significant role in this direction and I will enjoin the NCC Board members and management to always challenge yourselves to exceed current or previous successes.”
Pantami also noted that NCC had briefed him on the 200 access gaps in the country where almost 40 million Nigerians do not currently have access to telecommunication services and which, he said, must be addressed.
“We would have succeeded in doubling the sector’s GDP contribution if we work together to close about 80 per cent of this 200 access gaps. As part of measure to achieve this, the NCC has told us about its plan to have access points in all the 774 local government areas in the country and as a ministry, we won’t hesitate to give you necessary support in this regard,” Pantami said.
Elaborating on the reduction in invalidly-registered SIM cards success by the NCC, the Minister thanked the Commission for its promptness in implementing the directive he had given to the Commission last week to take immediate measures towards reducing the over 9.2 million invalidly-registered SIM cards on the networks.
“Last week, I made an official statement that we had directed the NCC to ensure operators address the issue of over 9.2 million invalidly-registered SIM cards on their networks. By today, report from NCC indicated that 6.75 million of the SIM cards have been rectified and this is highly commendable,” he stated.
While noting that the number of cleared SIM cards represents an appreciable 73.61 per cent reduction in the 9.2 million figure, leaving only 2.4 million yet to be cleared, the Minister urged the NCC to ensure the remaining numbers “are cleaned up by September 25, 2019, so that every SIM card that is involved in any crime-related issue can easily be identified.”
According to him, “Ninety per cent of security issues today lies on ICT and as such, NCC has a critical role to play in helping to address the issue of insecurity in the country, which is one key agenda area of President Muhammadu Buhari. I believe we have a strong team at the Commission to build the ‘Next Level NCC’ for the country.”
In his remarks, NCC Board Chairman, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, thanked the Minister for his readiness to support the Commission in his various efforts at leveraging the ICT/telecoms to create economic prosperity for the country.
He stated, though “we are still expecting two new board members already appointed by the President to join the Commission once the National Assembly resumes from recess to have the full complement of 9-member Board of NCC, the Commission is committed to leveraging ICT to support Mr. President’s agenda at improving security, bolstering the economy and reducing poverty as well as in fighting corruption.”