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NCC and regulation of service providers

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NCC, FG, Illegal deduction
Nigerian Communications Commission

NIGERIA is overburdened by the sheer size of government at all levels. Worst-hit is the almighty Federal Government which is reputed to have more than 500 Ministries, Agencies and Departments, MDAs.

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Many of them are creations of the 1999 Constitution and laws of the National Assembly. A lot of them (no fewer than 41) exercise regulatory powers.

They are supposed to set standards of performance in specific sectors and enforce them on behalf of the government for the safety, security, and wellbeing of the people. In spite of their existence, Nigeria is one of the most poorly-governed countries in the world, as most of these regulatory bodies are unable to enforce their mandates due mainly to corruption, ineptitude, indolence, tribalism and nepotism.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has proved to be a poor regulator. Even though the communications sector is often cited as one of the most successful due to the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration’s licencing of the GSM services in 2001, the NCC’s inability to manage the excesses of the service providers has caused unquantifiable damage in the sector.

How else can one describe a situation whereby out of the over 174 million active GSM subscribers in Nigeria, 9.2 million Subscriber Identification Module, SIM, cards were discovered in September this year to belong to ghost subscribers because of improper registration?

These cards were “unregistered, preregistered or semi-registered”, yet they were issued by the service providers to individuals to use as they liked in flagrant violation of NCC rules.

These companies are supposed to have fool-proof biometric captures of all SIM card subscribers on their networks for easy identification when the need arises. But due to the mad scramble for subscribers by these service providers to be able to brag of having the largest subscriber base, a lot of these cards were illegally registered and issued to people with questionable intentions.

It was obviously the existence of these improperly-registered SIM cards that led to the ballooning of new crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, herdsmen terrorism and Boko Haram insurgency.

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It is unfortunate that these cards were in the system for the best part of the past ten years and the NCC did nothing about it until the new Minister, Isa Pantami, ordered their immediate blockage. Curiously, it was the NCC that supplied this information to the Minister after he ordered a performance audit.

Beyond blocking these cards we call on the Federal Government to set up a panel of inquiry to determine those whose acts of commission or omission led to the emergence of ghost SIM cards, why they were allowed to exist for so long and the amount of damage they have caused.

Those behind this should not go free.


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