The Federal Government has no plans to strip the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) of its powers, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has said.
Pantami said this on Thursday in his presentation at the 19th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Scorecard for 2015 to 2023 in Abuja.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Information, Arts and Culture.
Pantami said there was no iota of truth in insinuations that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), was designed to take over the powers of NCC.
He said that both the NCC Act 2003 and NITDA Act 2007 were obsolete and long overdue for review due to imperatives of new technologies.
According to him, old Acts did not address the fourth industrial revolution and emerging technologies.
Pantami said: “We are talking about Fouth Generation (4G) Technology and Fifth Generation (5G) Technology today as well as digital economy.
“The NITDA Act was specifically on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, while the NCC Act dwell more on telecommunications.
“I had a meeting with the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC and the Director-General of NITDA and I directed them to work together.
“And there was an agreement that both Acts needed to be amended.”
The minister said that NITDA had over 30 stakeholders’ engagements were held, saying, “I am sure NCC was involved.
“It is unfair that someone will say because I was once a Director-General of NITDA and therefore tilted towards it.”
Pantami also said that he stood his ground for NIPOST over stamp duty issues and was threatened by the late Boko Haram leader.
He said that the threats came, when the government insisted on the implementation of Subscribers Identity Modules (SIM) with the National Identity Numbers (NIN) linkage.
“I protected NCC recently when an Agency took 42 billion belonging to it. The higher authority asked the Agency to return the money to the NCC.”Pantami said.
He said that what was being done regarding the amendments of the NITDA and NCC Acts were in the best interest of the country.
Pantami said based on assessment of independent consultants engaged by the Federal Government, the Ministry scorecard stood at “A” in all the eight priority areas assigned to it by Buhari.
According to him, broadband penetration as of November 2022 stood at 46. 2 per cent, as well as quarterly revenue generation from the ICT sector at N408 billion.
“Employment generation in the digital economy sector alone covered 2.2 million Nigerians within the last three years.
“The National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC), was able to capture NIN of over 95 million citizens on its database within two years.
This, he said, increased compared to a figure of 39 million Nigerians captured by the same agency for 13 years.
Pantami further said that through the implementation of the e-governance policy of the present administration, over N47 billion had been saved for the government.
He also said that he inherited only one National Policy, but as at today, 19 National policies had been implemented by the ministry.
Pantami said 18 Nigerian universities were being provided free unlimited broadband access and 20 Nigerian markets were also benefitting from such gestures free of charge.
He said all the policies being implemented by this administration would be concluded before May 29 this year as President Buhari would also inaugurate the 12 billion naira National Centre for Digital Innovation in Abuja.
He said challenges in the telecommunications industry were as a result of deficit in infrastructures and vandalisation of fibre optic cables.
He said that in one particular year about 13,000 cases of vandalisation of fibre optic cables were recorded in different locations across the country.
Pantami said the president should be commended by Nigerians for the far reaching policies implemented by his administration to change the narratives of the digital economy space and improve the living standards of the people.
The NITDA bill is currently before the National Assembly for review.