The executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta has said telecom infrastructure is very critical to successful polls in 2023 and called on Nigerians in every community to join hands in protecting it for the benefit of the country.
Danbatta, who was a special guest at the 6th edition of the annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) in Lagos, with a focus on the forthcoming election and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in attendance said, with the planned transmission of election data and results riding on telecom infrastructure, there was a need to ensure the fidelity of the transmission systems to enhance the credibility of such data.
“If telecom infrastructure is vandalised or damaged, it would create problems in the area of the data transmission during the election; Citizens will find it difficult to use their phones to seamlessly communicate and the journalists too might find it difficult to access their web platforms to disseminate necessary information which members of the public require to make informed decisions at every point,” he said.
Danbatta recalled that, over the years, the telecoms sector has continued to face destabilising situations arising from negative attitudes and actions of hostile communities; theft of diesel, batteries and power generators from telecom base stations; digging up and cutting of fibre optic cables by construction workers, indiscriminate sealing/locking-up of base transceiver station (BTS) sites by state governments, other governmental and community stakeholders, as well as other disruptive activities which must be tackled decisively.
While reiterating the importance of telecommunications in all aspects of human lives, including the forthcoming election and other national activities and programmes, Danbatta said that without telecom infrastructure, it will be difficult to communicate with family and friends over long distances, conduct banking and insurance operations, education, entertainment and other essentials services that enhance the quality of life.
“This means that telecom infrastructure is important and we must all ensure that we guard and protect those critical national infrastructural assets now, during the upcoming elections and thereafter. So, every citizen in Nigeria must take responsibility for the protection of telecom facilities for the benefit of all,” Danbatta said.
He enjoined GOCOP members to use their credible media platforms and enviable experiences to collaborate with the NCC in creating greater awareness and public enlightenment on the need to protect telecoms’ infrastructure.
A statement by the NCC director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka said the event was chaired by the founder, Centre for Alternative Policy Perspectives and Strategy (CAPPS), Dr. Umar Ardo, also present were former Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase; Regional director, Ford Foundation, Dr. Chidi Aniagolu-Okoye and distinguished members of GOCOP, most of who are senior media professionals.
Danbatta, the statement said, commended GOCOP members for their contributions to the promotion of awareness of derivable benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) through their online platforms.
“The NCC would like to commend the leadership and entire members of GOCOP for the good work you are doing in your professional practice of disseminating timely and accurate information to Nigerians to enable citizens to take informed decisions,” he said.