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 AYA’s Speaker, Mohammed Danlami, the group said it had undertaken an assessment of Danbatta’s achievements since his appointment as the EVC of NCC on August 4, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari and subsequent confirmation, 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 on the growth already recorded in the industry and have prepared a more fertile ground for the country to experience accelerated socio-economic development.
According to him, “Through his 8-Point Agenda, as a five-year clear roadmap for his first term, Danbatta has ensured more Nigerians are connected on 3G and 4G networks, with over 72 million Nigerians on these broadband networks. Also, he pioneered the trial of 5G network in 2019, which is the future frontier in digital communications.”
He noted that Danbatta introduced the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb (DND) short code in 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 in levies; to Kogi State, where 120 base station sites were reopened in 2018, Danbatta’s energy and proactive strategy are in display,” the AYA Speaker said.
Speaking further, the youth group said that in the area of strategic collaboration, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Danbatta and Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), 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 financial inclusion to 80 per cent by 2020,” he said.
The AYA also noted that the inter-agency partnership between the two regulators has born another fruit, saving a major service provider, 9mobile (formerly Etisalat), from imminent collapse while Danbatta has also ensured the successful listing of telecoms companies, MTN and Airtel on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). This has made Nigerians have ownership shares in the two telecom 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. Danladi said the toll-free number can help the distressed to access help from the Police, Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence Corps, Fire Services, Ambulance Services and other emergency responders.”
In the area development of new regulatory intruments, Danlami said the NCC boss 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 others.
“It is noteworthy 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 while broadband penetration rose from six per cent to close to 40 percent at present,” he added.
In term of contribution to the economy, Danladi said available data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has shown that telecoms contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 8 percent in 2015 to 11 percent as of the fourth quarter of 2019.
He said there has also been appreciable improvement in the area of quality of service, just as cases of unsolicited text messages have reduced through the 2442 DND Short Code, while many initiatives have been put in place under to ensure adequate consumer protection.
“For us at AYA, we are happy that Danbatta has contributed and is still 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.
“In terms of staff welfare and development, he has written his name in Gold in this respect. We are confident that posterity will forever recognise him as a major contributor to the growth of the Nigeria’s economy through effective and innovative regulatory style he brought to bare in propelling the overall national development,” he said in the statement.