By Idowu Abdullahi,
President Muhmmadu Buhari has ordered cross-section of the nation’s security agencies to ensure the protection of telecommunications infrastructures against vandalism across the country.
The President’s directive followed his approval of telecom facilities as critical national infrastructure after years of clamour from the telecommunication industry that the President declare them priority assets, which was finally approved after a proposal by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami,
The securities agencies directed to over the protection of telecom infrastructures across the nation include the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The Minister said the proposal to the President was to ensure the federal government identify telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), with a view to protecting them from vandalization and theft considering the industry role and services to the nation’s economy.
Pantami, through a statement released to newsmen on Tuesday by his media aide, Uwa Suleiman, since the industry depends on major infrastructures to deliver unhindered services, the Ministry under his supervision had to inform the President through the proposal by pointing out the contribution of the industry and why its infrastructure needs protection.
According to him, the outbreak of coronavirus within the country’s border necessitated migration to digital platforms for ensuring the smooth running of governance and other businesses, adding that the development increased the level of importance of the industry and its infrastructures to the sustenance of the nation’s economy amid the uncertainty of coronavirus.
Furthermore, the Minister, who commended the security agencies for their expected commitment to securing the infrastructures as directed by the President, noted that the ministry will work towards the reinforcement of the directives through appropriate regulatory instruments.
Pantami also urged the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to further reduce the price of data and calls in appreciation of the President’s gesture, adding that the Ministry is expecting them to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country for proper records and protections.
“The Minister is delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that, President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.
“The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by Mr. President, have repositioned the ICT sector.
“This is evident by the recent ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07% to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020.
“The Minister is truly grateful for the timely approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, and we are confident that this will address the challenge of vandalism of our Critical National Infrastructure.
“It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” the Minister said.