Wednesday, August 2, 2017 4:00 pm
By Arome Attah
Looking at the number of subscribers to GSM services today, it is hard to imagine how Nigerians had conducted their socio-economic affairs before the introduction of the mobile telephony services about 17 years ago. Prior to August 2001, access to telephone was the exclusive preserve of the rich and privileged few in Nigeria but the story has changed for the better with over 155 million lines in operation. Now, the focus is on how to take it to the nooks and crannies of the nation.
At the driving seat of the revolution is the Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, an agency that is a reference point among its peers around the world. Given the intimidating challenges at NCC, the poser by industry watchers on the appointment of Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta as the Executive Vice Chairman was, can he live up to expectations? That poser had little or nothing to do with Danbatta’s pedigree; rather it had plenty to do with the herculean task at the NCC in view of the incumbent administration’s change mantra.
Characteristically, the new NCC helmsman was not in the least fazed by any of that; instead he hit the ground running in style. Drawing on his rich vein of experience as an astute administrator with a remarkable track record of performances and industry, Prof. Danbatta went about his new job as if he had been on the saddle for many years. Little wonder, to the surprise of all and sundry, impressive results started emerging in record time, a trend that has not only continued over the past two years but has accelerated, thereby eliciting critical accolades and awards.
For instance, under Danbatta’s watch, the communications regulator has reinvigorated its 19 departments such that it has become quite proactive in the truest sense of the word. Aside from setting tangible responsibilities for the staffers, accountability is now made the watchword. This is even as the commission’s procurement processes were made more transparent and accountable thereby facilitating efficient service delivery.
Little wonder, encomiums have been flowing upon the commission like confetti. The Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPRS), for instance, recently adjudged NCC tops in terms of institutional work processes throughout Nigeria. As pointed out by BPSR’s Director General, Dr. Joe Abah, NCC under Danbatta’s watch ensures that “Strategic objectives are prioritized for potential impact using standardized principles…”
Needless to say, it is not only the above highlighted area that NCC has been sparkling. Consider the tireless efforts to educate telecommunications consumers on their rights to quality services, including stoppage of unsolicited SMS simply by texting “Stop” to 242. To ram home the point, the NCC boss declared 2017 as the year of Nigerian Telecom Consumer. In the same vein, the relentless campaign against sale/purchase of unregistered SIM Cards has been heightened across the nation.
And as part of efforts to improve the level of efficiency in tax management and revenue generation through deployment of technology, NCC and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) have set up a Revenue Quality Assurance Committee for the telecoms section. Bearing in mind the fact that the sector has been grappling with worrisome cases of indiscriminate closure of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in the course of chasing tax revenue (thereby undermining the capacity to provide telecom services) this initiative has been hailed by analysts as “impactful” and “visionary”.
It has therefore come as little or no surprise that NCC is being patted on the back every now and then on account of its exemplary governance and service delivery. Among those who have showered encomiums on the commission in recent times are Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, and the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi. This was even as the European Society for Quality Research (ESQR), an affiliate of the European Union, recently bestowed on the commission its annual ESQR award. The prestigious award, which NCC had also clinched the previous year, was bestowed this time again in ‘’recognition of its outstanding commitment, support and efforts to endorse and approve achievements in Quality Management”.
And the list goes on and on… In fact, from whatever angle one looks at it, one thing is crystal clear: NCC under Danbatta’s watch has been veritably recharged, reinvigorated and revitalized according to expectations – and still counting!