Attempts by some Members of the House of Representatives to stall the ratification of the budget of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, with the inclusion of the budget proposals for SIM Card registration, has drawn the ire of industry chieftains who said the issues border on the security of the nation and should be treated with utmost dispatch.
The House had on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, passed the Commission’s budget proposal for 2010, but excluded the N6.1 Billion Naira proposed for the registration of the estimated 78 Million SIM cards existing in the country.
The Senate on its part on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, passed the Commissions’ budget, inclusive of SIM registration proposals.
The Conference Committee of the House of the Senate and the House of Representatives later met to harmonise the budget and thereafter approved the budget proposals as submitted by the telecom regulator, including the registration of SIM Card across the nation.
However, while the report of the Conference Committee of the Senate was presented and approved by the Senate on Thursday, October 21, 2010, a similar presentation by the Chairman of the House Committee on Communications, Dr. Dave Salako, at the House on Thursday, October 28, 2010, met with resistance by some members who claimed that the NCC budget is yet to be discussed in the House, resulting in a rowdy session.
Mr. Chris Onoja, an IT Consultant with Finesse Konzult, Lagos, wondered why some law makers are putting so much resistance in a matter where the lives and security of the citizens this country is involved.
“We don’t understand why some of our law makers do not know the priorities of its citizens and will be toying with an issue as important as SIM Card registration in the country.
The same members have been approving huge sums of money for the welfare of its members and now when the important issue of protecting the citizens is involved, some of them are resisting. This is not good for this nation”, he said.
Mr. Godwin Morgan of Gamnet Solutions Ltd, telecom industry analysts, said when the consultation for the exercise began in Abuja, he participated in the public hearing conducted by the House Committee on Communications where it was resolved that the NCC will be better placed to carry out the registration within a space of six months as the telecom operators insisted that it will take them more than three years and six months to complete the process.
“This nation cannot wait till 2014 to complete SIM card registration. Besides, we need a central data base which is secured with a government agency in charge and not one to be handled by the operators, and a government agency can easily be accessed by a government agency and security agencies rather than the private operators”, he said.
Mr. Morgan said the fact that the Senate has considered this registration necessary should be an eye opener to members objecting to this programme that the nation demands for it.
The government of the day has said so much about the improvement of security of businesses and citizens of this country and it is a surprise the House of Reps dominated by members of the same ruling party are unable to toe the line of exigency for the benefit of the nation and its citizens.