The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, has disclosed that the communication sector had priotised security over economic benefits.
Pantami made the disclosure during the official launch of the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), 2021-2025, Podcast and the Book Compendium of Prof. Umar Danbatta’s Speeches, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the Ministry does not joke with security, adding that it aids the security institutions and as such compromises economic benefits that will have been for the sector.
“We have even been compromising the economic progress of our sector because of our aim in supporting security institutions.
“At any point in time in the telecommunication sector our position is `security takes precedence over economic benefits’.
“Security is our priority followed by economic benefits. But if two things can be pursued, this one is our priority.
On the issue of subscribers’ bio data, the Minister, however, explained that only the security institutions were constitutionally empowered to access that.
“When something happens and phone number is involved our function is to transmit that number to security institution like the Police and Department of State Security (DSS).
“Go to them and explain that your brother has been kidnapped and this is the number they used in contacting us.
“The police or DSS know the procedure and they will communicate to the NCC or telecom providers for bio data so that it will not be abused.
“It is because of this that only security institutions have the power to ask for that information.
He said although one’s phone conversation was constitutionally confidential, the 2015 Cybercrime Act and a subsidiary legislation of the commission gave the Federal Government the power of interception.
“Constitutionally, your phone conversation should be confidential.
“Look at the Constitution of Nigeria Section 37 and 39 and see clearly that it is only the cybercrime Act 2015 and a subsidiary legislation of the Commission that allows government, that’s when a crime is committed.
“That is what is called `lawful intercept’,” Pantami said.
The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), of NCC, Danbatta, in his speech explained that the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) took cognisance of all the existing developmental documents.
“We have taken cognisance of the several notable advancements in the Nigerian telecommunications industry within the last five (5) years, as well as:
“The current global realities such as International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Strategic Plan (2020-2023).
“The Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria.
“The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government.
“Thus, the new plan has been guided by and aligned to the NNBP (2020-2025), the NDEPS (2020-2030), the SMP (2020-2024), the ITU Strategic Plan and the ERGP of the Federal Government.”
Speaking further, he said, the new SVP 2021-2025 had five items, which included:
Organisational Renewal for Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Excellence, Facilitating the Provision of Infrastructure for a Digital Economy which fosters National Development;
Promoting Fair Competition, Inclusive Growth, Increased investment and Innovative Services;
Improve Quality of Service (QoS) for Enhanced Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE); and Facilitating Strategic Collaboration and Partnership.
The EVC also noted that the new SVP had inbuilt initiatives, key performance Indicators developed from inception and activities tied to an implementation responsibility matrix, which would ensure strong commitment to its implementation.
“It also incorporates timelines and a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
“It is equally outcome-based and ecommendation-driven with follow-up actions to guide the Commission in operationalising the plan and assessing its performance over time.
“The new SVP, no doubt, embodies several innovative elements deliberately designed to re-invent and transform the telecom ecosystem within the context of regulation.
“This leads to the next innovative project, the Compendium of EVC’s Speeches and Presentations,” Danbatta said.
House Committee Chairman on Communications, Mr. Hakeen Adeyemi, while congratulating the EVC, noted that the communications sector had become the major contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
Adeyemi encouraged NCC to continue carrying out SIM audit so as to establish more emergency communication centres across the country to boost security, quality of service, and reduce cost of data.
He also pledged the support of the National Assembly in enabling the Commission to perform its regulatory functions.
The book reviewer, Prof. Chidi Akujor, noted that the book titled: “Catalysing Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Transformation through Broadband Infrastructure” had 531 pages, including 27 preliminary pages.
He said it had eight sections with each section corresponding with the eight-point agenda of the Commission, adding that the book would serve as a reference point for telecom sector and the academia.