Anybody that tampers with telecoms infrastructure is tampering with your future and the future of your children – they should be resisted and reported, the telecoms watchdog has told Nigerians.
Telecoms infrastructure protection has returned to the front burner in recent times, with stakeholders calling for measures to curb vandalisation of telcos’ assets and other network systems.
There is a need for a collaborative effort to protect them, Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), told attendees at the maiden edition of the Village Square Dialogue (VSD) organised by the telecoms regulator in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
NCC: Why Telecoms Infrastructure Protection Matters
“Without telecoms infrastructure,” Adewolu tells attendees at the NCC dialogue, “we cannot communicate with friends and family over long distances at the touch of a button, and we cannot conduct banking, insurance, governmental services, education, entertainment and many other activities with ease without telecommunications. This means that telecoms infrastructures are critical to modern existence, and we must all do what we can to ensure that we tackle anything that affects their seamless operation.”
The event was a homecoming for Adewolu, a former Ogun State Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, who asked community leaders and people of Ogun State to take ownership of telecommunications infrastructure in their localities and protect them from vandalism or theft.
“Issues like hostile communities, the theft of diesel, batteries and power-generating sets, digging up fiber lines, sealing/locking-up of base transceiver station (BTS) sites and such other illegal activities must be tackled decisively by all of us,” Adewolu says.
“I therefore urge you all,” the NCC ECSM says, “to please see telecoms infrastructure as your own, and to protect them as communal property. Anybody that tampers with telecoms infrastructure is tampering with your future and the future of your children – they should be resisted and reported.”
Ogun State is central to telecoms growth in Nigeria because it hosts one of the largest concentrations of users of telecoms services in the country, with an active subscriber base of over eight million users as of the Fourth Quarter of 2021, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), he says.
“This huge subscriber base”, Adewolu says, “is supported by a dynamic ecosystem of service providers, dealers, marketers, and innovators. We are, therefore, here to host the maiden edition of the NCC-instituted Village Square Dialogue and to salute the legendary entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Ogun State. On behalf of the Commission, I also thank you for the warm reception accorded us and the warmth traditionally accorded telecom service providers to bolster infrastructure development.”
Telecoms services, Adewolu says, have for long been recognised as the easiest and cheapest means of meeting critical socio-economic needs such as education, financial inclusion, economic empowerment, and deepening social interactions.
Accordingly, the infrastructure through which these services are provided are called the “infrastructure of infrastructures” because they enable the digitization and seamless connectivity of all other socio-economic sectors, the NCC ECSM says.
The VSD, a version of the Telecom Consumer Conversation designed as a strategic, multistakeholder consumer outreach programme of NCC, took place at the 92-year-old Centenary Hall, adjacent to the palace of Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Alake of Egbaland.
The VSD, according to NCC, was conceived by the telecoms industry regulator to interact with telecoms consumers at the grassroots “for the purpose of sensitising telecom consumers through information sharing, education, and advocacy on telecommunications-related issues.”
Importantly, NCC says, the forum provides an opportunity for telecoms consumers in the rural areas to make contributions to the governance process of the telecoms ecosystem, and engage their service providers to resolve complaints.
Also speaking at the event, Kunle Olorundare, Principal Manager in the Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI) Department of NCC, underlined the contributions of telecoms to the economy, mobile network development, the benefits of telecoms, network outages and their causes, and also called on consumers to protect telecoms infrastructure.
“By protecting the infrastructure,” he says, “you are protecting every service offered on the network. You are protecting your money (Mobile Banking), your Jobs (Recharge Card and Phone business), your children’s future (Learning on the internet) and even your community (Social communication).”
While responding, Chief Oluwakemi Oloyede, Iyaloja of Egbaland, thanked the NCC for the sensitization programme, which she said, had benefited not only the market women and men who attended the event but also the entire telecoms consumers present, who cut across social strata.
“We have listened to all you have told us as telecom consumers,” Oloyede says adding that “we would always recall the information when you have left us and we would also ensure that we take all measures possible to join hands in protecting telecom facilities in our vicinities for improved quality of service delivery. From all indications, doing this is for our own benefits as consumers.”
On his part, the Alake of Egbaland, applauded the regulatory strides of NCC in ensuring accelerated growth of the telecoms sector, thus making the sector a flagship enabler of Nigeria’s prosperity.
The Paramount Ruler gave the commendation when the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM) of NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, led a delegation of NCC staff to his palace.
Oba Gbadebo, who was the Royal Father of the Day at the event, and was represented by Oluwo of Ake, Egbaland, Chief Samuel Tanimowo, says that “one of the public institutions, whose activities are felt by the generality of Nigerians in many positive ways is NCC and the leadership of the Commission must be commended for its doggedness in ensuring that Nigerians enjoy the benefits of digital revolutions.”
The monarch says that NCC as a flagship public institution is positively impacting the lives of all Nigerians, also particularly commended Adewolu, an indigene of the state, for his positive representation of the people of Owu Kingdom, Ogun State, where he hails from. “We also thank you and your entire Board and Management for bringing the first edition of the Village Square Dialogue to us in Ogun State.
This is a testament to how important you take our state, which has contributed tremendously to the socio-economic and political history of Nigeria,” the monarch adds.