By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on Information Technology to investigate the non-patronage of the Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAS) of federal government.
The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Rep. Danasabe Hosea (Taraba-PDP), who noted that the Federal Government had contracted Kosmo – 3m Rocket from Russian Plesetsk Spaceport to launch its first Earth Observation Satellite, the Nigeria – 1 on Sept. 17, 2003, at the cost of N30 million.
He said subsequently, Nigcomsat – 1 Communications Satellite was launched in China at the cost of N200 million, but it failed in orbit in 2008 after running out of power, owing to an anomaly in its solar array.
The lawmaker said he was aware that the Federal Government had, since 2003; spent about N85 billion on five Satellites which were meant to provide communication data and images for government agencies and the private sector.
This he said was with the aim of saving billions of foreign exchange and generating revenues estimated at 20 billion dollars for the country.
“Also aware that Nigcomsat – IR was relaunched in 2011 at no extra cost while Nigeria sat-2 and Nigeria sat X Satellite, which was built at a cost of 35 million dollars was launched in the same year.
“Concerned that the Multi-Billion Naira Communication Satellites are under-utilized in space due to low patronage by Government agencies and private companies which continue to spend money running into billions of Naira to procure satellite images from other Service Providers, services which Nigeria’s Satellite could supply, thereby depleting our foreign reserves.”
Hosea said that he was sure that Nigcomsat IR had effective signal coverage of the entire country and the West African sub-region.
He added that if Federal and States Government agencies were mandated to subscribe with the Nigerian Communications Satellite for their satellite services, the billions of Naira being expended for their satellite images needs will be conserved.
Similarly, the house has mandated its committee on healthcare services to investigate the operations of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency to ascertain its level of compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The committee is to report back findings within six weeks for further legislative action.
The house took the decision after approving a motion brought by Rep. Wale Diya (Lagos-APC).
In his lead debate, Diya explained that the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency was established to address the health issues in the rural communities in Nigeria.
He expressed concern that many rural communities lacked Primary Healthcare Centres, which left people at risk of dying from diverse ailments and diseases due to unavailability of drugs or medical personnel.
“Also concerned that existing healthcare centres are inadequately equipped and lack sufficient drugs and personnel required to effectively attend to patients;
“Aware that in order to achieve the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is important for the government to tackle healthcare challenges, especially at the grassroots level.
“Cognizant of the need to adequately monitor allocations appropriated to the National Healthcare Development Agency to ensure that Nigeria achieves the targeted Vision 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).”
Both motions were unanimously adopted by members when put to voice vote by the Speaker, and referred the matter to the information technology committee for further legislative inputs and report back within four weeks.