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We need Executive Order on telecom infrastructure protection – ALTON

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The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has reacted to the recent step taken by President Muhammadu Buhari towards the protection of telecom infrastructure in Nigeria.

Recall, that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, did intimate the industry through media reports that the President has directed security agencies to ensure telecom infrastructure are protected.

But, according to industry observers, the directive fell short of their expectation of an Executive Order hence the National Assembly are yet to conclude on the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill.

Responding to TechEconomy.ng questions, the Executive Secretary of ALTON, Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga, said that while the members appreciate governments’ efforts towards solving multifaceted challenges faced by operators, they hope the direction is a step to the Executive Order.

Mr. Awonuga recalls that in the days of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL); stressing that today telecom sector has become the major economy pillar hence the need for an Executive Order.

He further commended the efforts of Dr. Pantami and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) towards resolving the matter.

His response:

“Well we think it is a good development in the right direction. It could be part of the Executive order process starting from somewhere. 

“NCC have MoU with a​​lmost all the law enforcement agencies in the country but the surprising thing is that the same law enforcement agencies are used to shut-down the infrastructure.

“In those days, nobody dares move near NITEL infrastructure because of the decree protecting NITEL at that time.

“We hope the direction is a step to the Executive Order.  Telecom sector is becoming the major economy pillar now with what is happening in the oil sector.  We need this Executive Order.

“The direction may not solve the matter, even when directive is given you still some over-zealous law enforcement officers disregarding it.

“ALTON wishes to commend the Minister of Communications & Digital Economy for the good work he is doing, he has done so well in pushing for the reduction of Right of Way charges and also actively involved in the FCT discussion for better quality of service. 

“We encourage him not to relax until the Executive Order is made.  All these in place will facilitate massive deployment of infrastructure across the country in order to achieve the new National Broadband target.

“The way forward is to continue to encourage the Hon Minister to push for the Executive Order.  Operators will continue to do their best because today telecoms services have become the bedrock of the economy sustainability.  At this time nothing should hinder the growth”.