By Egena Sunday Ode
The Federal Government has suspended the planned privatization of Nigeria. Communication Satellite Company Limited (NiGCOMSAT), Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ibrahim Pantami, announced Thursday.
The Minister spoke at a press conference in Abuja to mark his one year in office.
He said he personally detested the idea of privatization because of the security implications involved, noting that the platform had been giving enormous support to the security agencies.
Pantami also said his ministry will hand over no less than 70 percent broadband internet penetration of the country at the end of President Mohammadu Buhari’s second term in 2023.
According to him, the ministry under his leadership had already added about 10 percent to the 3.8 percent it met on ground one year ago, bringing the current total broadband penetration in the country to 4.8 percent.
Chief among his achievements enumerated at the press conference was the resolution of the perennial crisis of right of way between telecom service providers and state governors.
He said he was able to bring the cost of linear meter down to N4500 as against the about N16000 or more that governors were charging the service providers, just after a two hour meeting with the states chief executives.
The Minister also announced that the Federal Government had waived the right of way in its own jurisdictions to the telecom companies till December 2022 as palliatives to cushion the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Stating that the achievements of the ministry were a direct fulfillment of the three cardinal electioneering promises of President Buhari, Pantami noted that the ills of corruption and insecurity as well as the need to grow the nation’s economy had been largely addressed by the ministry using ICT as a platform.
He emphasised the need for Nigerian youths to deemphasis the zeal for paper certificates but shift attention to skills acquisition, adding that the world no longer reckoned with degrees.
The minister had earlier performed a virtual commissioning ceremony of about 12 projects located in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
He said at the brief ceremony that the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic had its positive effects as it had helped the ministry to save the money that would have gone into sending staff to different locations for mere projects commissioning.