By Stanley Iwuoha
To ensure implementation of its earlier directive on protection of telecom facilities across the country, the Federal government has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and telecom operators to submit their strategic plans.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami gave the order while responding to the recent cutting of telecom fibre in the northeast by some yet to be identified aggrieved labourers.
He said this has become necessary to forestall attacks on critical National Infrastructures by any group of persons or individuals, stressing that the stakeholders should attach unique identity to the infrastructures to enable government deploy security forces for their protection.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta had earlier expressed the concern of the Commission over the cutting of a telecom optic fibre in the North East, saying that the development constitute a breach to national security.
Recall that fibre infrastructures of MTN and Airtel and other carriers were recently cut off by irate labourers who were engaged by some persons working on telecom infrastructures, but were denied their pay.
With this development, Maiduguri, the Borno state capital as well as Damaturu, the Yobe state capital and other cities and towns in the northeast have been cut off from communications to people within and outside the region as a result of the cut in the fibre facilities of telcom service providers.
Both the Minister and Prof. Danbatta spoke at a Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the Implementation of the National Broadband Policy 2020-2025, at the Digital Economy Complex, Mbora, Abuja.
Prof Danbatta who spoke earlier said reports reaching him indicated that fibre infrastructures have been cut again by today, (Monday) thereby cutting millions of people off lines in the northeast.
He spoke in response to concerns raised by the Chief Operating Officer of MTN, Mr Mazen Mrouf and Airtel’s Vice President (Networks) Dr Adedoyin Adeola, on the attacks on fibre facilities in the northeast by some irate group.
“Yes, we are aware of the cut of fibre infrastructures in the northeast last Friday. We took up the matter immediately. But reports reaching me right now indicates that some labourers are responsible. And that they have cut it again as of today,” Danbatta said.
Prof Danbatta said the intervention of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as well as the government of Borno state has become imperative to address the challenge.
He explained that the matter would be addressed just as the NCC engaged the Nigeria Customs Service in dialogue when it ordered the stoppage of supplies of diesel to base stations in border towns/areas of the country.
However, the Minister said to address the matter it was important for telecom operators as well as the NCC to produce a database for all telecom facilities across the country with unique identity attach to them to enable government fashion security protection for them.
The Minister who lamented that he had made the request before wondered why the stakeholders were yet to respond up till now, saying “we all want results, but the little we have to do to achieve such results nobody is taking it serious”.
Dr. Pantami also called on the stakeholders to intimate his office on any form of multiple taxations from the states, asserting that he would engage the governors to address such just the way the Right of Way (RoW) issue was resolved.
The Minister who expressed the determination of the present administration to achieve the goals and targets set for the National Broadband Policy 2020-2025, said telecom operators should also make their request regarding access to Foreign.