By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-tech Editor
Telecom operators in the country and other professionals in the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, industry, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to issue executive order against vandalism of telecom infrastructure, double taxation and regulation in the sector to properly harness the developmental potential of ICT in nation building.
The call was made as Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, flagged of Nigerian telecom leadership summit in Lagos.
The summit, according to NCC, is meant to restructure and reposition Nigerian telecom industry to accommodate current realities that shape world economies.
The theme of the 2019 edition of this summit is: ‘Repositioning the Nigerian Telecom Industry for the Future: Prospects and Challenges.’
Challenging the government on the travails of the industry, Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, said the only way to have a telecom industry that would become the backbone of the economy, was for President Muhammadu Buhari to pronounce executive order on telecom infrastructure to forestall incessant vandalism by urchins and facility shut down by all manner of state and local government agencies.
Adebayo said these have hampered telecom activities and diverted revenue that should have ordinarily accrued to the Federal Government.
Also corroborating him was former Minister of Communications Technology Omobola Johnson.
According to Johnson, “during my time as minister, there is hardly any state I didn’t travel to have meetings with the governors on how to have harmonious relationship with the telecom operators.
“However, it appeared that after the meetings, the governors reneged on everything we agreed and continued to fix arbitrary levies and charges on operators. For me, I think time has come when the approach should change.
However, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo promised that the Federal Government would take a look at certain decisions taken in the past to see if some amendments could bring the desired change.
Osinbajo, represented by Special Adviser to President Buhari on Political Affairs, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said the Federal Government was displeased with the lingering issues of ‘Right of Way,’ saying it had become a huge encumbrance to broadband infrastructure deployment across the country.
Osinbajo’s message read in part: “Today, in virtually all aspects of human life, telecommunications have become indispensible.
“In Nigeria, we have experienced positive impact of that contributions of the telecom industry in our economy. The contributions of this industry to the national Gross Domestic Product has continued to grow, with the last quarter of 2019, indicating 10.1 per cent.
“This sector contributed an impressive N1.9 trillion, in the fourth quarter of 2018, a clear indicator, that the sector is one of the goose that lays the golden egg of our economy, and, therefore, must be encouraged, protected, sustained and projected.”