By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA—The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC on protection of critical national infrastructure.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta signed on behalf of NCC, while the Commandant of the NSCDC, Abdullahi Muhammadu signed on behalf of the Corps.
Speaking on the MoU, the NCC boss, said the partnership became necessary in view of the huge investment made in the telecommunication infrastructure and to guarantee quality and efficient telecoms services to Nigerians.
Prof. Damabatta said the collaboration in furtherance of NCC’s effort to assist government realizes it’s economic diversification plan.
With the implementation of the MoU, he said NCC emergency centres would also be secured and the safety of lives and property of Nigerians would be guaranteed and more investment expected from prospective investors in the sector.
‘‘We keep reminding Nigerians about the 8 Point Agenda, Strategic collaboration and partnership with sister agencies of Government to achieve our mandate to the Nigerian people.”
‘‘Through this strategic partnership, which culminated into signing of the MoU with the CG of the NSCDC, we have succeeded in the practical terms, translating the intent of the agenda. Through the signing of the MoU, we have agreed that protection to the telecom infrastructure is so crucial, that is protecting them from vandalism and willful damage as well as ensuring that our emergency communications are protected.
‘‘These centres have been put in place to bring relief to Nigerians in distress. They are provided to offer emergency services between the people in distress and the emergency agencies.
‘‘The signing of this MoU has further lend credence to our commitment to secure the lives of Nigerians, wherever they live, as well as protecting telecom infrastructure from vandalism across the country.
‘‘The commandant has already given the matching orders to all his men given the responsibility to hit the ground running. This is a milestone attained.
‘‘NCC is trying to leverage the reach of NSCDC to protect critical national infrastructure which the telecom infrastructure is one of them. The reason for this is that telecom sector is connected to all sectors of the economy and is contributing 8-10%( N1.6 trillion) to the economy every quarter.
‘‘The sector is poised to assist the diversification plan of government to move away from oil and gas and augment the revenue from oil and gas from other sources of revenue.
‘‘Huge sums of money had been invested to provide telecom infrastructure all over the country and the investors are eager to invest more, but the problem we are seeing is the infrastructure already in the ground are damaged either unintended or intended by vandals.
‘‘It is expected that our mandate does not end with regulation of telecom sector as well as ensuring quality and efficiency of those services, it extends to protecting the infrastructure that are hosting the services. I can assure that NCC is committed to this partnership and we will do our bit to keep our promise,’’ he added.
Responding, the Commandant of NSCDC, Abdullahi Muhammadu described the collaboration initiative as a welcome development, saying that the Corps was established to same purpose of protecting critical national infrastructure and to serve as back-up security to the police and army.
He however, promised the NCC boss of his commitment to deploy available man power and ammunitions within his command for execution of the national assignment.
‘‘It is our mandate to protect critical national infrastructure. I am ready to provide the equipment, the fire arms to protect this national infrastructure.
‘‘Though, we know the equipment is inadequate but So far, we have to go the field first. As far as arms and ammunitions as well as man power are concerned, we will do our job.
‘‘I have a data of those already arrest but can’t give it out now. As at yesterday, we had secured conviction of about five vandals in the South East,’’ he said.
In a related development, the EVC expressed concern on the use of pre-registered Sim Cards by some people and said the cards pose serious challenges, not only to NCC but to the entire security of the nation.
He warned those engaging in the act to desist or face the law, saying that the NCC can no longer allow unscrupulous elements to use them to undermine the nation’s security.
‘‘We cannot allow unscrupulous few among us to use preregistered Sim cards to undermine the security of the country. We must be seen to be doing everything within our mandate to end the use of unregistered sim cards. I want to warn those engaging in it to withdraw or the law will catch up with them.
‘‘We will do all we can to make sure they are not in circulation. We have taken some measure, in addition to electronic forms to ensure we give a good example of those who willfully use the preregistered Sim cards to commit fraud,’’ he said.