Communications Minister, Omobola Johnson
The raging controversy and in-fighting among the top management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) remains dicey as issues fuelling the acrimony goes beyond supremacy battle.
A source within the NCC told THISDAY yesterday that at the centre of the controversy is the sale of 800MHz Spectrum to Smile Communications at a less and below market level price, adding that the argument that a particular commissioner was frustrating the commission is meant to divert the attention from the billions of naira lost in the spectrum saga to irrelevant issues.
In detailed analysis of the shoddy nature of the deal, which was said to have been facilitated by the NCC Executive Vice-Chairman, Eugene Juwah, the Federal Government was said to have lost close to about a N150 billion to Smile Communications through suspicious waiver.
Investigation revealed that when compared with some countries such as Germany, Italy and France, it was discovered that Nigeria was short-change by more than N150 billion.
Another issue at stake is the sale of 450MHz Band Frequency valued at $50 million which was sold by the EVC at a give-away price of $6 million.
The frequency was believed to have been bought by Opens Skys Ltd, owned personally by Anambra State-born business mogul, Sir Emeka Offor.
The said frequency according to an NCC source, would obstruct the operation of the Nigerian Police national security and surveillance project which the Federal Government is believed to have invested close to $450 million.
The sale of the frequency will be an obstacle to voice communication component of the national security project.
The deal is said to have pitched the authorities of the Ministry of Police, Police Headquarters on one hand and the Ministry of Communication Technology and NCC on the other side.
But the brow within the NCC stemmed from a meeting at the instance of the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, where the Police Affairs Minister, Captain Caleb Olubode (rtd) and his Communication Technology counterpart, Mrs. Omobola Johnson.
The NCC source who would not want his name in print observed that the detail and further clarification by an Executive Commissioner at meeting before Sambo is said to have caused disharmony between Johnson, Juwah who also attended the meeting alongside the commissioner.
Since the meeting, there have no love lost between the commissioner and the Juwah group within the commission.
Another loophole in the deal is that many in the NCC believed that the EVC and some top management of the commission might have misled President Goodluck Jonathan in granting the controversial waiver in the 800MHz frequency to Smile Communications and the 450MHz frequency to Open Skys Ltd.
Added to that, many senior staff in the commission are uncomfortable with the way NCC is being run now, unlike in the days of the Ernest Ndukwe-led administration.
There are also talks that while most management staff, directors and communication experts are in Dubai for an ICT conference, the commissioner at loggerhead with the Juwah did not attend the conference as a result of the bickering and in-fighting.
With the raging war at its crescendo, there are insinuations that the VP may intervene to calm down frayed nerves in order to prevent the problem from escalating.
Efforts to reach the EVC proved abortive as he was said to be attending an international ICT conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.