By Prince Osuagwu
LAGOSâ€”Going by the date of appointment, the tenure of the Executive Vice-Chairman, EVC, of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, endedÂ yesterday.
Ndukwe came into the board of NCC on February 17, 2000 after he was appointed by the then president, ChiefÂ Olusegun Obasanjo, as EVC. He was later re-appointed after his five-year tenure ended in 2005, to continue with the streamlining of the nationâ€™s telecommunications revolution which saw foreign investors redirecting interests to the country after the 2001 GSM auction sales.
However, by virtue of confirmation, he may also have one month and some weeks to stay in office, during which internal reconciliations and hand-overs would be made.
None-the-less, succession tussle for his post has begun with people within and outside the commission in desperate moves to secure the coveted position.
Vanguard gathered that an uneasy calm has enveloped the commission while speculations are rife over who succeeds him.
Some of those eyeing the top job include Dr. Bashir Gwandu, who is currently an Executive Commissioner at NCC and another candidate who is being nominated from outside the commission.
According to a source at NCC, â€œthere is a quiet tussle here and everyone is wondering who will takeover from the current chairman, but we learnt that one of the contenders is within, while the other is being nominated from outside.â€
Ndukwe, the outgoing EVC of the nationâ€™s telecommunications regulatory agency, is a professional telecommunications engineer with over 30 years international experience in the industry,Â most which he had been in senior management positions in private and multi-national telecommunications companies.
As an industry leader and prior to his appointment as NCC’s Chief Executive, he had served in various committees set up by the government to formulate policies for a liberalised telecommunications industry for the nation. His qualification and achievements make the appointment of a successor a big challenge.
The top contenders
However, Gwandu, who despite reports linking outsiders as favoured for the job, is still considered a top contender for the position. The source at NCC also believed that he was very qualified to handle the high profile job. Gwandu, a B.Sc. holder in Physics from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, also has a Master’s in Applied Physics from University of Jos and a brief engineering service experience at the Tactical Air-Command, Makurdi. He was a former teacher at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Aside Gwandu, a former top shot of MTS First Wireless, Eugene Juwa, is also seriously considered for the job, while Vice-President, Academics andÂ Student Affairs in Kano, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Umar Garba Danbatta, and NCCâ€™s current Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Stephen Adedayo Bello, are also linked to the NCC top job.
Meanwhile, the succession issue is becoming confusing given the number of people linked to the position.
ATCON, ALTONâ€” Who wins?
At a time, President, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria, Dr. Emmannuel Ekuwem and his counterpart in the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, were also listed as top contenders to the job.
This angle was given wide speculation from the fact that successive NCC EVCs including Ndukwe had come from the telecom association, ATCON, where ALTON broke away from.
Experts, including NCC sources, are, however,Â worried at the way the succession pendulum is swinging, praying that the issue is handled in a manner that would not hamper the robust telecom growth the country has recorded in the past decade.