By Emma Okonji
Some industry stakeholders have said a presidential directive remains the only step towards achieving protection of telecoms infrastructure.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently gave a directive for the protection of telecoms infrastructure across the country.
According to the stakeholders, the clamour for an Executive Order that would declare telecoms infrastructure as a critical national infrastructure, is what the industry needs and not a directive.
According to them, the high level of incessant disruptions of telecoms activities across states, coupled with the willful destruction of telecoms facilities by social miscreants, could only be addressed through the signing of an Executive Order by President Mohammadu Buhari, because of the legal backing that comes with Executive Orders.
Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said: “On the Presidential pronouncement directing protection for all telecom installations and infrastructure, this is a step in the right direction, we are grateful for this and as evident following the pronouncement that some states are reducing and some eliminating Right of Way (ROW) charges, it is now obvious that we have more stakeholders joining us in ensuring further development of telecommunications in Nigeria towards realising our National Broadband target. We are grateful to Mr. President and we earnestly look forward to an Executive Order backing this pronouncement.”
Given the depth of destruction of telecoms facilities and the obstruction of telecoms activities across states, telecoms operators said they have suffered so many losses to vandalism of telecoms facilities, which they said could only be fully addressed through the signing of an Executive Order that would declare telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure.
President Buhari recently approved the request by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, to provide security for telecoms infrastructure nationwide.
According to a statement signed by the spokesperson to the Minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of critical national infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.
“The minister is delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.
“The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been notified of Mr. President’s directive.
“We are also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments. Pantami specially appreciates the security institutions, and commends the commitment they have demonstrated in securing these infrastructure,” the statement added.
Suleiman further explained that Nigerian telecommunications industry, depended on a number of infrastructure that play a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services. These, she added, were part of critical national infrastructure because of the important role they play in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services.
“The minister is truly grateful for the timely approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, and we are confident that this will address the challenge of vandalism of our critical national infrastructure.
“It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), Suleiman said.