From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has said that security is being considered more important than economic gains in Nigeria’s telecommunication sector.
Pantami stated this Tuesday in Abuja during the official launch of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC”s), Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), 2021-2025, NCC’s Podcast and the Book and Compendium of EVC’s Speeches.
The minister said that security is their priority and that because they are assisting the security institutions, they in the process compromise the economic benefits that would have come to 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,’ the minister stated.
The minister maintained that only security institutions are constitutionally empowered to obtain subscribers’ biodata.
‘When something happens and phone number is involved your function is to transmit that number to security institutions like the Police and DSS; you go to them, that your brother has been kidnapped and this is the number they used in contacting us. The police or DSS knows the procedure and they will communicate to the NCC or telecom providers for biodata so that it will not be abused. It is because of this that only security institutions have the power to ask for that information.’
According to the minister, even though phone conversations are constitutionally confidential, the 2015 Cybercrime Act and subsidiary legislation of the commission gives the 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 subsidiary legislation of the Commission that allows the government to intercept. That is when a crime is committed, that is what is called lawful intercept,’ he said
Remarking at the event, NCC Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umar Danbatta noted that the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) took cognisance of all existing developmental documents in developing the 2021-2025 SVP
‘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,’ he said
Prof Danbatta said the new SVP 2021-2025 contains five items namely: Organisational Renewal for Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Excellence; facilitating the Provision of Infrastructure for a Digital Economy which fosters National Development and Promoting Fair Competition, Inclusive Growth, Increased investment and Innovative Services;
Also contained are Improve Quality of Service (QoS) for Enhanced Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE), and Facilitating Strategic Collaboration and Partnership.
‘To ensure a strong commitment to its implementation, the new SVP also has inbuilt initiatives, key performance Indicators developed from inception and activities tied to an implementation responsibility matrix.
‘It also incorporates timelines and a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism. It is equally outcome-based and recommendation-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 takes me to the next innovative project, the Compendium of EVC’s Speeches and Presentations,’ Danbatta stated.
According to Prof Dambatta, ‘as the chief regulator of this very dynamic telecom sector, I have had the opportunity to deliver several speeches and make presentations both locally and internationally. In order to preserve these speeches for historical reference, we have carefully selected some of the speeches which capture the successes and challenges of the Nigerian communications sector from my perspective.’