By Charles Mgbolu
Few days to the completion of his two-term tenure as Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC,Â Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, there emotions in the Nigerian telecommunications industry even as heÂ handed over to Engr. Stephen Bello, Executive Commissioner and most senior staff of the regulatory agency.
Engr. Bello, according to NCC,Â is to hold forth until the appointment of the substantive EVC of the Commission for five year tenure.
Later at an impromptu farewell organized by the Commission same day, Engr. Ndukwe announced that the latest statistics has shown that as at March 25, 2010, the number of active subscriber lines in the network has grown to 78.5 Million, something to cheer about the performance of the Commission.
On a day that two different organizations visited Engr. Ndukwe to confer him with awards for his superlative performance at the Commission, he told a management meeting which he convened for the purpose of announcing his glorious exit from the Commission, that he had a meeting with the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who did not quite realize that his departure will be that soon. He said that at that meeting, it was agreed that he hands over to the most senior officer of the Commission, hence Engr Bello who joined the Commission in 2000 and rose to become an Executive Commissioner.
He gave what appeared a valedictory speech at the meeting. â€œI donâ€™t know of many organizations where people have been able to stay and offer service and end the way I am doing it today. So I think I will like you people to join me in thanking God for this tenure.
â€œI also want to thank you all for the cooperation I have received from all of you, many of you that are here today are actually people that I had the opportunity of actually being part in engaging and also many of you have been in many ways than one been part of my success story as the CEO of the NCC. You people have been such a wonderful group of people and believe it from the bottom of my heartâ€, he said.
While recounting his efforts at making the Commission a professional and humane organization, he told those whom he must have offended to forgive.Â â€œI also want to say that during my term in the NCC it is possible that I might have offended some people, I donâ€™t think I have offended anybody as such, but if I did just know that it is because of the course of my duty.
â€œSometimes I am a stickler of certain positions or certain rules. I have tried as much as possible to improve the living conditions of staff in this Commission, so even if things didnâ€™t work the way you thought it would work just forgive me. I just beg for forgiveness from those people whom I think that I might not have done them the kind of favour that they would have wanted me to doâ€, he said.
But later in the day at a farewell cocktail, attended by the Board members, management and staff of the Commission, including the officials of the Digital Bridge Institute, DBI, Engr Ndukwe told his audience amidst prayers, ovations and failing emotions that every staff of the Commission must be proud of the contributions they have made to the success of the organization.
â€œIn year 2000, theÂ number of telephone lines in this country was 400,000 and 25,000 analogue mobile lines. As at 25th of March 2010, we have 78.5 Million lines. So as far as we are concerned as a Commission, we have everything to be proud about.
â€œPeople say that we have a larger number of lines because of our population. I wish to remind them that we have always had a large population since 1960, and that after 40 years of independence we had only 400,000 lines to boast about.
So, all of you, one by one,Â have made great contributions to what has happened in the industry and I think you should all be very proud of yourselvesâ€, he said.
He advised them be mindful of certain realities. â€œYou should not forget the operating companies because we have not installed a single line. The only thing that has made the difference is that we created the right environment to make it happen.
â€œAnd, that is what I am leaving behind with you â€“ That one statement by the regulator can actually drive all the investments out of this country. Any regulator must have this at the back of his mind because once you donâ€™t do the right thing, or you donâ€™t say the right thing and you donâ€™t perform the right way, the industry can be affected and if negatively, you would have lost all the gains you have made.
â€œSo, it is very important that you still maintain the high level of professionalism that this organization is known for. And you maintain high level of integrity which this organization is known for so that the Nigerian Communications Commission will still be regarded as the flagship organization and as a pride to the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeriaâ€, he said.
He said his prayer is that the Commission continues to grow from strength to strength. â€œMy prayer is that all of you will continue to grow from strength to strength and this organization will continue to tower higher and higher and I wish all of you well and God will bless all of youâ€.
He also commended the Board of the Commission for the support he received in the course of his duty. â€œI would not have asked for a better Board. These people have sacrificed all without counting the cost and I think they are worthy of the trust reposed on them and I can only wish them well.
â€œLuckily, our board does not get dissolved. While the three of us are leaving, another three will come in, but they will meet six people here and will continue in the tradition of the Commissionâ€, he said while commending management and the officials of the DBI who he advised to still consider the continuation of a programmes for training of lower and medium manpower in the current move to make the institute a university.
Engr. Ndukwe told members of management of the need to offer leadership.Â To the directors of the Commission he said â€œWhen I go outside the Commission, I always boast about the crop of staff that weÂ have at the NCC. All I can enjoin you, like Jesus Christ said when he was leaving: Please look after my flock. Look after them; make sure you give them what they require because encouragement must come from leadership.
â€œThere no two ways about it. If the leadership is bad, the body polity will be bad. So, leadership is so critical. He said to all intents and purposes, all the heads of departments think, are carefully selected and I have a feeling they will do wellâ€, he said.
While responding, Engr Bello told Engr. Ndukwe the Commission is very appreciative of his efforts and will wish to â€œthank God for your service in the Commission, the dedication you have put into your jobâ€. .
â€œThe industry is just a proof, it is a result of your activities and your efforts and your input is very obvious. It can be seen by virtually every Nigerian one way or the other either with telephone in their hands or access to service and the difference that the telecom industry has made to the lives