The Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA), a socio-cultural northern group in Nigeria, has rated Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta high in his stewardship as the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission since 2015.
The group made this known in a statement issued in Abuja at the weekend, where it adjudged Danbatta’s performance as having more strategically positioned the NCC to be at the forefront of accelerating socio-economic development of the country.
In the statement, signed by its Speaker, Mohammed Danlami, the group said it has undertaken an assessment of Danbatta’s achievements since his appointment as the EVC of NCC on August 4, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari and subsequently confirmed on November 25, 2015 by the Senate, for a five-year term in office at the first instance, subject to renewal for a second term by the President in line with the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.
Danladi highlighted the key achievements of Danbatta, which, he said, have further consolidated the growth already recorded in the industry and prepared a more fertile ground for the country to experience accelerated socio-economic development leveraging telecoms platforms.
According to him, “Through his 8-Point Agenda, as a five-year clear roadmap for his first term, Danbatta has ensured more Nigerians are now connected on 3G and 4G with over 72 million Nigerians on these broadband networks. Also, he pioneered the trial 5G network in 2019, which are future frontiers in digital communications. Danbatta also introduced the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb (DND) short code 2016 to tackle the menace of unsolicited telemarketing for the citizens.
“Also, the Commission, under Danbatta, issued a direction to service providers on Data Roll-Over, enabling consumers to roll over unused data for period of time, ranging from 1 day to 7 days, depending on the data plan, among other consumer- centric directives.”
The youth group said another portion of the agenda that stood out was how Danbatta revolutionised stakeholder engagement. “From Ogun State, where Danbatta used his clout to ensure 47 base stations were immediately unsealed by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, to Kano State, where over N200 million was waived on levies, to Kogi State, where where 120 base station sites were reopened in 2018, Danbatta energy and proactive strategy are in display,” the AYA Speaker said.
Speaking further, the youth group said in the area of strategic collaboration, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Danbatta and Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB), Godwin Emefiele, with a view to boosting mobile money service penetration and financial inclusion in the country has also struck a chord. “With this development, there’s permeating optimism that the country will be able to deepen the inclusion to 80 per cent by 2020.”
Nonetheless, the AYA said that the inter-agency partnership between the two giant regulators has also born another fruit, saving a major service provider, 9mobile, from imminent collapse while Danbatta has also ensured the successful listing of telecoms companies, MTN and Airtel on the Nigerians Stock Exchange (NSE) making Nigerians to have ownership shares in the companies.
“Under his leadership, as NCC boss, Professor Danbatta ensured the completion of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) across the country to promote and enhance public safety through a toll-free, three-digit number, ‘112’, as the Universal Emergency Communications telephone number in Nigeria,” he said, adding that “the toll-free number can help distressed persons access help from the Police, Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence Corps, Fire and Ambulance Services and emergency responders.”
Danlami also noted that Danbatta has introduced many regulatory frameworks such as the E-waste Regulations, Commercial Satellite Regulations, Disaster Recovery Guidelines, VAS Aggregator Licence Framework, and National Roaming Framework, which is still being worked on, among several others.
Danlami also maintained that in the last five years, access to telecoms service has increased from around 150 million to 186 million; Internet subscribers increased from about 80 million to close to 130 million; broadband penetration rose from six per cent to close to 40 percent.
He noted that telecoms contributions to gross domestic product (GDP) has also increased from 8 percent to 11 percent, quality of service has improved, cases of unsolicited text messages have been curtailed while many initiatives have been put in place under Danbatta for adequate consumer protection.
“For us at AYA, we are happy that Danbatta is contributing immensely to socio-economic development of Nigeria in all spheres. Aside his leadership qualities and sagacity, he is an embodiment of humility and an epitome of good leadership. He was born to make the world a great place and he has lived up to that assignment at NCC.
“In terms of staff welfare and development, he has written his name in Gold. We are confident that posterity will forever recognise him as major contributor to the growth of Nigeria’s economy through effective and innovative regulation of the digital ecosystem to propel overall national development,” he said in the statement.