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NITDA Bill Deserves a Place in the Trash, By Okoh Aihe



NITDA Bill Deserves a Place in the Trash, By Okoh Aihe

There is so much happening in the telecommunications industry that it is difficult to thumbnail any particular development that could spell more danger for the industry in the days ahead. But there is also so much facade over the industry, like some figures of achievements being bandied around, that it will be difficult for anybody to be hunting for what is not going well. But there are several and I will pick only one.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has recently moved to amend its 2007 NITDA Act to properly situate the agency to promote development in the tech ecosystem and tackle problems that may impede growth in the industry. The Director General, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi is enjoying a little gloat over this and he has his army of supporters who are edging him on. They have been told the good side of the story and they can’t wait for miracles to begin to rain down from heaven, and jumpstart the nation to leapfrog Dubai or South Korea in tech growth and adoption.

READ ALSO: NITDA Says, A Digital Ecosystem Will Create Value, Wealth For Nigeria

After all, we are so used to fantabulous tales in our present state of being that truth and reality have been trapped in the conspiratorial web of politicians who prey on the ignorance of the majority to earn a living out of failure. But we have also been speaking to the other side, the group whose members don’t take vacuous bravura as organizational policy but are genuinely searching for lasting documents that can do the nation good apropos technology. When we spoke there was some kind of wailing, like some guys taking a final look at a loved one in the cemetery. But they were wailing for the disguised but orchestrated assault on, and attenuation of the telecommunications industry.

I could only understand their concerns after going through the proposed Bill. First the Bill is aimed at power-grab in the industry. Apart from creating all kinds of channels to levy, fine, impose charges and even criminalize some operations, the Bill is making forays or stage-managed raids into the purview of hither to more power agencies in the industry. In summary, the Bill wants to seize the data ecosystem of the industry and subordinate it to its incompetent and miniscule self.

The future of the telecommunications industry is data. Very soon voice will become a very small part of the business, leaving data to control everything. Already with data, a subscriber can make a voice or video call without using the phone line directly. Whoever controls the data platform controls the industry, andthat is what NITDA wants to do, to control the telecommunications industry and its massive infrastructure with scant knowledge of the amount of labour that has gone into building the sector. Just like a rat waking up from a dream to swallow up an elephant! Except this is Nigeria.


Just three functions in Section 5 of the Bill may suffice. They include: issue regulations, guidelines, frameworks, directives and standards to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of appropriate infrastructure, and information technology systems, to support the development of digital services application in Nigeria; develop, test, and certify information technology systems, services and practices to promote innovation and use of emerging technologies to improve efficiency in service delivery including registration of devices and type approvals; and promote universal access for information technology, digital services and systems penetration in urban, rural, under-served and unserved areas.

Having just listed the above, let us also look at only two functions of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as stated in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003. They as follows: proposing, adopting, publishing and enforcing technical specifications and standards for the importation and use of communications equipment in Nigeria and for connecting and interconnecting communications equipment and system; and carrying out type approval tests on communications equipment and issuing certificates therefore on the basis of technical specifications and standards prescribed from time to time by the Commission.

Section 1V of the Act permits the NCC to consider, design and determine a system which shall promote the widespread availability and usage of network services and applications services throughout Nigeria by encouraging the installation of network facilities and the provision for network services and application services to institutions and in unserved, underserved areas or for underserved groups within community (USP)

The Commission shall then set up a fund known as the USP Fund, part of which monies, shall include a portion of the annual operating levies (AOL) paid to the Commission by the licensees. NCC gets 2.5 per cent of the annual operating levies from the operators and give 40 per cent of that amount to USPF.

What the above means is that the USPF is a structure set up by law which has guaranteed source of funds to handle its projects across the country and not to constitute a leech on others in order to survive. A little annotation here: equipment type approval is done by the Department of Technical Standards and Network Integrity.

READ ALSO: NITDA Warns Nigeria Against Hackers Disguised As USAID

Dr. Chris Uwaje, Oracle of the nation’s technology industry warned that the Bill is danger waiting to happen and will encourage exodus of digital innovators. Engr. Titi Omo-Etu, one of the founders of the tech industry is afraid that investments will become a major victim of the planned Bill. Co-founder of Flutterwave, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, after looking at the various charges, levies and other draconian provisions of the Bill, has regretted voting for this government.

But this is all about power grab. The Agencies under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are: the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat), Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), and the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), which is domiciled in the Ministry but serves all sectors of the economy.

The Minister who was former DG of NITDA would attest to the fact that his organization was one of the least empowered with nebulous responsibilities, a situation which constantly pitched him against the NCC. Could the unfolding scenario in his ministry be a cherished opportunity to weaken other parastatals for the ascendancy of NITDA?

This particular Bill is outrageous and annoyingly duplicitous, a grotesque mirror image of the original already in existence. The National Assembly should be wary of all contraptions that come in the name of Bill, including this ostentatious manifestation of ignorance, arrogance and avarice. The only place for the Bill is the trash which should be heading to the incinerator, after which the ashes should be blown in the wind, as a lasting evidential ignominy and escort for those who don’t mean well for our nation.




General News

9mobile Clears The Air On Its Director Being On UAE Terror List



9mobile Clears The Air On Its Director Being On UAE Terror List

9mobile says one Abdurrahman Ado Musa on the UAE list of terrorist financiers is not a director of the mobile telecommunications company.

The company, in a statement in Lagos, said ‘Abdulrrahman’ Ado ‘Musa’, named on the UAE list, was not the same as Abdulrahman Ado, its Executive Director of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs.

It said the resemblance in names was purely coincidental, adding that its director does not bear ‘Musa’.

READ ALSO: Rising Tension In Benue, Ebonyi Over Renewed Agelong Crisis

“Our Director, Abdulrahman Ado, is a respectable law-abiding Nigerian. He served the country diligently in public service for over three decades before transferring his services to the private sector.

“He served in various capacities and was Pioneer Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and Executive Commissioner, Licensing and Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission.

“As a law-abiding company that believes in the greatness of Nigeria, and the well-being of all its citizens, 9mobile would never accommodate any undesirable element within its management and staff,” it said.

9mobile urged the general public to kindly disregard the mistaken identity reported in the media.

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Facebook Launches ‘Smart Glass’ That Takes Photos



Facebook Launches 'Smart Glass' That Takes Photos

Social Media App ‘Facebook’ has launched its first ‘Smart Glass’ as a part of its attempt toward offering augmented-reality spectacles.

CEO/founder of Facebook made this known in a video as he believed that the glasses are going to be an important part of building the next computing platform

At the launch on Thursday, Facebook said the glasses line, called Ray-Ban Stories, would sell at a value starting from $299.

READ ALSO: Smart Schools Creation Already Initiated To Boost ICT – FG

It said the glasses, created in partnership with Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica (ESLX.PA), will allow wearers to listen to music, take calls or photos, make short videos, and share them across Facebook’s services using a companion app.

The social media giant, which reported revenue of about $86 billion in 2020, has been investing heavily in virtual and augmented reality.

It had developed hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and worked on wristband technologies to support augmented reality glasses.

Earlier, Facebook said it was testing a virtual reality (VR) remote work app where users of its Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.

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Op Ed

A Plea For Understanding in Zamfara Tech Shutdown – Okoh Aihe



A Plea For Understanding in Zamfara Tech Shutdown – Okoh Aihe

I begin this material with a solicitation that you join me in prayers for a dear friend, Ahmed Abudulkadir who was kidnapped on Monday along with his daughter in Bakori, near Funtua in Katsina State. Ahmed is a nice fellow, a genuine go-happy gentleman who has no time for misery and regrets.

Ahmed has served his people without holding anything back. He was General Manager, Katsina State Television, before joining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) where he retired as the Zonal Director in Maiduguri. The Maiduguri Zone also includes: Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and Yobe. Before the Maiduguri posting, Ahmed was Head, Public Affairs of the Commission. It will be pertinent to observe here that with all the dangers in the Zone which includes the dreaded Sambisa forest, Ahmed traversed the whole of the area before retiring into farming in his native Katsina State.

Ahmed is a good man. Go to his Facebook posts and you will be overwhelmed with the love of one man for his family. Those who took him should look at the face of one gentleman that has given his best to his people and country and, please, release him to continue with his simple life. Let those who know how to pray, pray that God should come through for Ahmed and bring him and his daughter home safely.

Without a doubt things are spinning out of control in the country, demanding of all of us to encourage and support government in its actions to deal a lasting blow on the enemies of the land before the situation festers beyond redemption.

READ ALSO: For MTN, a time to celebrate a success story – Okoh Aihe

The nation is not at war but some people are going through war daily. They say there is peace and some unsavory developments are exaggerated; the peace is as good as a man and the young daughter being kidnapped and that man, who is a father, is unable to play the role of a father and defend his family. Villages are attacked for hours and nearly obliterated but help does not come. The attackers choose very soft targets where they can engage in looting and in the dance of death unhindered and people are wondering what is going on in the land. Something has to give. And that came last week.

For the first time government took a decision to shut down telecommunications operations in Zamfara State to enable the gallant Nigerian forces intensify their operations in that part of the country, and the document which is top secret found its way to the public space and it has been trending ever since. I have asked myself severally, how did this happen? Who released this document without even contemplating the implications?

“The second paragraph of the letter dated September 3, 2021, reads: “The prevailing security situation in Zamfara State, has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecommunications services in the State from today September 03, 2021. This is to enable relevant security agencies carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the State,” the letter said.

I have looked at this material I couldn’t find anywhere it is marked ‘Top Secret.’ How could somebody make that type of puerile mistake where lives are concerned?

Be that as it may, I have also tried to assess the behavior of whoever leaked the letter, there is no justification whatsoever. I admit that this government may have engaged in some actions that were unwarranted and really irritating sometimes, making the citizenry to hold some of its actions in suspect, but that should not make anybody in the country to underestimate the danger staring us in the face.

I have been reliably informed that the letter was not intended for the public because of the security implications but the public got it, and I am suggesting that the public also get the more sobering message, which is to the effect that the situation in the land is no more a handshake between friends. It has never been. The hold has gone beyond the elbow and only this government enjoys the reason why it cannot declare these bandits terrorists.

Some guy spoke to me on Monday morning and painted a grim picture of what is happening in some of these States where the war on terror has been raging. The source explained that for whatever reason the bandits have taken arms against the nation, the acquiescing conspiracy of the locals, among them informants,  is even more dangerous and damaging. Among the locals are the agents who the bandits pay heavily; they include suppliers of food, diesel, fuel, and other necessities. My source lamented that it is worse when the security forces believe they are fighting for the people only for a tiny few among these people to betray their commitment and sacrifice with results that can be very discouraging, damaging and even deadly.

“They have informants all over the place and they are paying those people heavily. The people are doing it as a means of livelihood without knowing the dangers their actions constitute to the nation,” the source said.

READ ALSO: Bandits Invade Zamfara School For Fresh Mass Abduction Of Students

From all indications, what is being done is so technical that the ordinary folks were not supposed to be in the loop. There is a way the neighbouring States are affected causing some parts of Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna and Niger to suffer some collateral damage by propinquity. The technicality or those involved in the chain of implementation of the government’s directive shouldn’t be our concern but the results. I remain miffed by the fact that a communication was even released to this effect, which nearly jeopardized the entire process. My source is however encouraged by the results coming to them from the field of operations.

Here is my appeal. The situation in the land is so dire and so potentially explosive that we need, as a people, to escalate our thinking process and be able to squeeze reason out of irrationality. In the war against terror, government needs help and Nigerians should give it even at a cost.

For instance, the people of Zamfara are under a very terrible situation at the moment. That is a grave cut. The security forces are ready to pay with their lives by paying the ultimate price. How do we ever pay them back? The operators and their contractors with total service shutdown have taken their own cut. The rest of us should be ready to take a cut and support government’s actions towards bringing this nightmare to an end. This tech disruption in Zamfara is only but a phase that will soon pass.


Final take. Please remember Ahmed and his little daughter in your orison.

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