A House Committee of the National House of Representatives yesterday recommended that the Nigerian Communications Commission be reorganized and its management prosecuted for misappropriation of funds and other unconstitutional acts.
The Committee, “Ad-Hoc Committee on the Operation of GSM Networks” chaired by Hon. Leo Ogor, presented its report to the full House yesterday with a stinging criticisms of the Ernest Ndukwe led NCC and twelve recommendations on how to move the telecommunications regulatory agency forward.
NCC was accused of making a payment of over N5 billion naira to some foreign companies without the approval of the National Assembly as required by section 81 of the Constitution.
“All the Government officials from the ministry of communications and the Due process office that were involved in the unauthorized release of the sum of N5,376, 753,692.21 (Five billion, three hundred and seventy-six million, Seven hundred and fifty-three thousand, six hundred and ninety two Naira, twenty one Kobo) to ZTE, Alcatel, Shangai Bell and Messrs Hauwei Technologies company Nig. Ltd without the approval of the National Assembly, which is a clear violation of section 81 of the 1999 Constitution should be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. This will serve as a deterrent to others”
The Times of Nigeria obtained a copy of the report and reproduce unabridged recommendation of the committee below.
(i) In order to ensure quality service at all times, so that a regime of lower tariffs is enjoyed in Nigeria, collocation facilities, must be adopted by the industry now;
(ii) The role of interconnect exchange houses in reducing congestion on the network operators cannot be overemphasized. The NCC should immediately issue ~ directive to all network operators specifying interconnect exchanges as the approved pafu for handling inter-network traffic and compelling d1em to make use of existing licensed interconnect exchange houses. This will check call barring, by network operators and allow for concentration by network operators on intra network traffic;
(ili) The regulatory authority in the telecommunications industry, that is the NCC must ensure that international call termination rates are not lower than local call termination rate to avoid restriction of local traffic on d1e network of GSM operators and to eliminate the loss to the national economy inherent in such a pricing structure;
(iv) Convinced that d1e Universal Service Provision Fund (USP fund) can positively improve quality of service and the provisions of telecommunications to the rural, unserved and underserved areas, if the fund is properly applied, armed with competent knowledge d1at the USP fund has been shrouded in secrecy between 2001 to first half of 2006 where the USP fund Board never existed, we recommend that the USP fund be properly probed by the House Committee on Communications. GSM companies that have not paid their Annual Operation Levy (AOL) as stipulated by the NCC Act of 2003 must be sanctioned and made to pay their Annual Operation Levy (AOL) with interest at the prevailing lending rate;
(v) As a matter of respect for the highest constituted authority in Nigeria that is, the office of the President and to demonstrate patriotism and commitment to the concern of the House of Representatives and other stakeholders to finding a lasting solution to the problem of poor quality of service, we recommend that the NCC should issue the 3G spectrum license to NIGCOMSAT as directed by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Federal Executive Council to enable the company provide last miles services. This, we hope would give room for competition, bringing down high tariff in line with the government deregulations policy;
(vi) Telecom is a major technical and engineering profession and only trained and experienced professionals can make optimum decisions. Problems being experienced today originated from poor planning and lack of proper control mechanism put in place from inception when license were issued to the GSM companies. It is important to note that the GSM companies are selling services they do not have. The poor quality of telecom services cannot be corrected by incompetent planners. They would only exacerbate an already bad situation because of lack of know how:
(vii) The Nigerian Communications Commission as presently constituted, lacks the competent personnel, will and capacity to enforce the provisions of the Act that sets it up and has shown in glaring terms its inability to provide adequate regulatory oversight for the industry. The non adherence to budgetary provisions as stipulated by section 19 of the NCC Act of 2003 and the violation of Section SI of the 1999 constitution is unacceptable. Accordingly, we recommend an immediate reorganization of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the prosecution of the management by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, for spending money that are supposed to be credited to the Federation Account without the approval of the National Assembly, as stipulated by Section 162 and sections I of the 1999 Constitution;
(viiI) We also recommend a ban of 12 months on the sale of SIM Cards and organized promotions of all networks pending when quality of service improves;
(ix) A review of the 2003 Communications Act, with immediate amendment is hereby recommended;
. (x) The committee recommends the immediate hand over of the 1st phase of the rural telephone project to NIGCOMSAT that will hook all the rural network to their satellite and connect them to the interconnect houses for connections to other networks for effective operations. The details could be worked out between the ministry of communications and that of Science and Technology;
(xl) All the Government officials from the ministry of communications and the Due process office that were involved in the unauthorized release of the sum of N5,376, 753,692.21 (Five billion, three hundred and seventy-six million, Seven hundred and fifty-three thousand, six hundred and ninety two Naira, twenty one Kobo) to ZTE, Alcatel, Shangai Bell and Messrs Hauwei Technologies company Nig. Ltd without the approval of the National Assembly, which is a clear violation of section 81 of the 1999 Constitution should be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. This will serve as a deterrent to others;
(xiii) The service providers must try and adopt the habit of out-sourcing of their working requirement,
rather than the spirit of do it alone, the out-sourced providers will see themselves as partners in progress and will do everything possible to protect the equipment.