The Five Generation (5G) network would be deployed in Nigeria in January 2022 and would aid surveillance against vandalism of public assets.
Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, made the disclosure at a Town Hall Meeting to address vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure in Maiduguri, Borno yesterday.
The event, organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, was attended by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno and his deputy, Mr Usman Kadafur and other stakeholders.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed led the other ministers who were panelists at the town hall meeting.
Pantami, who was represented by Ubale Maska, Commissioner for Technical Services, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), said the 5G network was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council for increased connectivity.
He said while the technology would boost surveillance against criminal elements vandalising public infrastructure across the country, other measures should be put in place to arrest them and bring them to book.
The minister disclosed that there were over 50,000 telecommunication sites across the country, which made it difficult to man manually except through deployment of modern technology.
He also disclosed that there were about 16,000 reported outages by mobile network operators – MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile – from January 2021 to July 2021.
The outages, according to him were due to fiber cuts, access denial and theft leading to service disruption in the affected areas
He noted that protection of the critical infrastructural facility was key to the nation’s security, economic vitality, public health and safety.
He decried the situation where telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists, had not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions in parts of the North East.
The minister recommended continuous stakeholders buying-in and synergy among security forces. He also urged the National Assembly to expedite passage of Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to the President for assent.
In his remarks, Mohammed, insisted that government was not borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure but to build world-class infrastructure across the country.
“Naysayers have recently ramped up their criticism of the Buhari administration for borrowing. These critics are insincere. We are not borrowing for recurrent expenditure or to pay salaries. We are borrowing to build world class infrastructure that will benefit generations of Nigerians. We have a lot to show for the loans we have taken. There is a road project in every state. Today, we have started the countdown to when the second Niger bridge, which successive administrations have built only on paper will be completed. The list of projects we are handling with the loans we obtained is long.”
Mohammed lamented that the destruction of public infrastructure “is worse than we had imagined. For example, we were told that it would cost the Federal Government N3.8 billion to repair just four bridges that were damaged by vandals and petrol-laden tankers. That’s a huge amount that could have been used to build new infrastructure.”