The pioneer Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, Thursday, joined stakeholders in the Nigeria’s telecommunications industry to urge the Federal Government to implement Executive Order in order to put to the end the harassment of telecom operators across the country.
The Former Minister believes that failure to curb lingering cases of multiple-taxation, vandalism of telecom infrastructure by agencies of (mostly States) Government, may lead the country becoming digitally irrelevant.
Dr. Johnson who delivered the keynote address and participated in a panel at the maiden edition of Nigerian Telecom Leadership Summit #NTLS, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, decried the draconian and extant laws being used by state governors and other agencies of government to spin revenue from telecom operators.
She aligned with the industry operators that full implementation of Executive Order in this regard will reverse the trend.
According to her, an Executive Order will compel the Nigerian Communications Commission to be more forceful in terms of regulation, adding that any negative impact on the telecom infrastructure will, ultimately impact on the economy.
“The Federal Government should give Executive Order to tackle out multiple-taxation in the country’s telecom industry. It is a matter of talking to the Governors,” she noted.
Omobola, who spoke on the summit theme: ‘Repositioning the Nigerian Telecom Industry for the Future; Prospects and Challenges’, argued that the idea of engaging the State Governors Forum to step down on multiple-taxation has not worked in the past and may not likely work anytime soon.
“For me, the NCC must not be afraid to innovate or experiment. The regulator must take some risks to innovate. They are in a unique position to give action to state Governors not to temper with telecom infrastructure, as it enables other sectors of the Nigerian economy,” she added.
Nodding in agreement, the Chairman of the Association of Licenced Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, said engagement with the Governors has been ongoing for years and it has not worked, emphasizing that the regulator needs to be more strategic to do something different.
He said the multiple taxation and arbitrary closure of telecom sites has always affected the quality of service, which will turn impact on other sector.
“ATM will not work if you close telecom sites. Security agencies will not be able to track criminals if the sites are closed. The telecom sector service other sector of the Nigerian economy, so any negative impact on telecom infrastructure is a negative impact on the entire nation,” he argued.