By EricJames Ochigbo
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has charged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to be proactive in delivering quality telecommunications services to Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila who gave the advice at a public hearing in Abuja, said that the house was concerned that some areas in the country have no access to mobile telecommunication services.
The hearing was organised by the House Ad hoc Committee investigating why the NCC failed to promote widespread availability and usage of mobile telecommunication services nationwide.
The committee is also investigating the total accruals into the Universal Service Provision Fund as well as its expenditures since inception.
He said though Nigeria’s telecommunications sector was one of the largest in Africa, contributing immensely to the economy and lives of millions of Nigerians, most rural communities have no access to it.
“It is therefore critical to note that it is not only people residing in urban areas that have the right to telecommunications, consideration should be extended to rural dwellers.
“The NCC as the regulator needs to ensure proactiveness in ensuring qualitative and efficient services are offered by the telecommunication operators.
“And each part of the country enjoys access to telecommunications which is a necessity in today’s world, to be at par with developed nations.
“This has become necessary because mobile telecommunications has grown to become vital to Nigeria’s economic development, as it provide the infrastructural backbone for digital economy that drives development,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that the committee was constituted to probe the level of service delivery in the telecommunication sector.
He said that NCC and other operators in the sector needed to live up to expectations in ensuring efficient and qualitative service delivery to all Nigerians and not to some specific areas.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Bamidele Salam (PDP-Osun) said that the hearing was to investigate why mobile telecommunications coverage was not total as envisaged by the NCC Act.
He said that the parliament was also interested in the steps so far taken by the regulators to bridge the access gap, especially to underserved and unserved areas.
The chairman said that the committee will also probe the total accruals into the Universal Service Provision Fund as well as its expenditures since inception.
“By the resolution of the house, the major stakeholders in this industry have been contacted and invited to come and make presentations in this hearing.
“We are hopeful that at the end of the three days set aside for this purpose, we will reach the main purpose of the committee.
“This industry is very critical to national development, security and poverty alleviation as seen in most economies of the world.
“Nigeria as the largest democracy in Africa and third largest in the world cannot be seen lagging behind in terms of leveraging on the opportunities available in this industry to advance the welfare of its citizens,” he said.
Salam said that the house would find solutions to all bureaucratic bottlenecks which may have made it impossible to achieve the desired target.
He also assured that the committee will do a thorough job in line with its mandate and turn in the report in due course. (NAN)