Few days after President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 with the commissioning of the communications and digital economy complex, the Telecommunications Watch Group (TWG) has lauded the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Issa Pantami for the successful completion of the mega projects to boost Nigeria’s economy.
The group, in a statement on Monday by its convener, Paul Adefarati and Secretary, Christie Nwachukwu, said the commissioning and unveiling of the broadband plan was timely as Nigeria’s major income generation, oil, faces global downturn due to ravaging coronavirus otherwise called Covid-19.
Recalling President Buhari’s comments at the unveiling ceremony where he said, the minister was ‘a round peg in a round hole’, the group said his appointment was justified because, “not even his worst enemy could accuse him of incompetence judging by his expertise to turn the sector to economic hub of the nation.
The TWG opined that the sector would in a couple of years, rival what the nation currently earns from the oil sector and even surpass same, given the relentless efforts of the minister to revolutionise the communications sector.
The group also recalled that Pantami as director-general of NITDA, performed creditably, accounting for why there were high hopes that he was going to perform superlatively as minister.
Making reference to the Minister’s innovations at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) that significantly helped the industry and the Nigerian nation to grow IT sector, the group said “Pantami’s successor at NITDA, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi is building on the successes recorded by the former Director General to help grow the nation’s IT sub sector.”
While charging the minister to double efforts on repositioning and transforming the Communications industry which recently assisted in slashing the data rates to consumers, the TWG also urged the minister not to pander to the threats of the dissidents and Boko Haram elements who were out to frustrate him.
Dispelling innuendos that Pantami was waging proxy war to undermine Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission, the group said the Minister as an Islamic Scholar and God-fearing man would want every agency or parastatals under him, as the supervising minister to succeed and deliver on the mandate of President Buhari’s administration.
It would be recalled that the NCC denied an online publication that it gave N300 million to NITDA.
A statement by NCC Management by Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, said no agency of the federal government gives subvention to another agency as by extant laws of the government, every agency makes its budget and gets approval for appropriation from the National Assembly and such budgets are spent according to the appropriation of the National Assembly.
He added that the NCC budget doesnt contain any allocation for subvention to a sister agency saying, we cannot create a provision in our budget for another agency to implement.
Nkemadu continued, ”subventions to all agencies are done by the Federal government with resources domiciled in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Even salaries to Ministries Department and Agencies (MDA) come from there.
He said, NITDA as an agency of government also draws its budget and spends same to execute their own programmes as they deem
Since the advent of the new administration, the Minister has always encouraged a working relationship and close synergy between all the parastatals under the purview of the Ministry and not cross-funding of any of the parastatals.
According to him, the Minister has also facilitated support at the highest levels of government to programmes and activities of the Commission especially in facilitating meetings with the Nigeria Governors Forum on issues of Right of Way for expanding the telecommunications infrastructure and declaring telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).
Nkemadu therefore posited that we did not receive any directive from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, on funding any activity of NITDA and no approval was given in that regard.
He said the NCC had not entered into any partnership with NITDA to warrant any subvention for capacity building let alone implementing one. So the aspect of creating a budget for subvention did not arise.
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