ALTON Raises the Alarm over House C’ttee Overlapping Role

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Emma Okonji

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has expressed worries over what it described as the overlapping supervisory activities of the various committees of the House of Representatives on telecoms operations.

According to ALTON, the various ad hoc committees in the House of Representatives, such as committees on Land, Health, Environment, Labour, Employment and Productivity, among others, often invite telecoms operators to make presentations on telecoms matters, adding that the invitations were becoming too frequent and inconveniencing to the telecoms operators.

Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that the frequent summon of its members by the House of Reps Committees, is becoming embarrassing and affecting the smooth operations of telecoms operators. He said heads of the ad hoc committees, should streamline their functions
To avoid overlapping.

In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honorable Yakubu Dogara, dated July 3, 2017, which was signed by Adebayo and the ALTON Executive Secretary, Mr. Kazeem Ladepo, ALTON, the body requested for intervention of the Speaker and the Chairman, House Committee on Communications, to save the situation.

Part of the letter read: “We wish to bring to your attention an increasing incidence of enquiries and investigations with overlapping supervisory purview by various Committees of the House of Representatives with regard to the telecoms industry and the operations of our members. The key cause of concern for us in this regard is the fact that oftentimes, the subject matter and requests of these Committees tend to replicate the same purview/scope with the attendant duplication of multiple requests for the same information. In some instances, the same documentation is required by different ad-hoc Committees investigating different aspects of the industry thus leading to a confusion in assembling the documentation.

According to Adebayo, “Our members are also faced with the challenge of honoring concurrent public hearings and meeting requests from these various committees. By way of illustration, our members were recently invited by the House Committee on Telecommunications to two separate hearings/sittings on ‘massive job losses’ and ‘massive revenue losses’ respectively. On the same date, our members also had an invitation from an ad hoc Committee of the House, investigating ‘the Health Implication of the Mounting of Telecommunications Masts close to Buildings.”
In this respect the operators have had to send representatives on several site visits across about 11 states in the country and have attended about nine public hearings/technical sessions on the same, incurring huge cost, Adebayo lamented.

ALTON therefore appealed that all issues relating to telecommunications should be handled by the Standing Committee instituted for that purpose.