As part of the 45 years anniversary celebration of the creation of Rivers State, residents were asked to identify the weak link in the administration of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. In this interview conducted by Thomas Abbey and Chris Oluo, residents aired their views. Excerpts.
I arrived Rivers State in 2010 and my impression when I was coming was that I was coming to a state where the street lights are working and the standard of development is very high, like we have in Lagos, Abuja because this is an oil rich state. But I was surprised when I came I noticed that the Port Harcourt I used to hear about is not exactly how it is being painted. If I may say, it appears this is the first time the people are enjoying real fruits of democracy. When I came, street lights were not working. Ikwerre Road was not passable; I stay in Mile III area. Agip roundabout was a major problem to everybody. If you’re going from Agip to Iwofe to Mgbuoba area, if you are passing through Ada-George Road, you’ll leave your house at about 4.30 a.m.- 5.00am. But now the situation is changing. When I came, you cannot walk freely on Ikwerre road around 7.00 p.m. You’ll be afraid. But now we have street lights powered by generators to avoid the hardship of power failure. I think government is actually working.
“You’ll also consider that Governor Amaechi is one of the governors that quickly approved the N18,000 minimum wage for payment to workers. Many other governors are still grumbling over that, but he approved, and even started to pay.
“In fact, one area he has worked hard is the area of curbing corruption. His pattern of administration is in tandem with the Federal Government, anti-corruption policy. He went ahead to do verification of staff to check ghost workers. And in the award of contracts and management of parastatals, you can see that due process is in place and being employed in all regards.
The area I want him to put more effort is the area of transportation, and rural development. Transportation in the sense that the cost of transportation is a bit high. Higher than what should be obtainable in the state. I know that some “Amaechi” buses ply from Park (Aba Road) to Eleme junction and Oyigbo. But the buses are not enough. On Ikwerre Road, it starts at Mile 3 Park and terminates at Rumuokoro. You’ll agree with me that many workers in Rivers state, some stay in as far as Choba, some at Igwuruta. They don’t have access to enjoy these things unless they pay huge amount on transport fare to Rumuokoro before they can enjoy the facility.
“In the area of security, very recently you heard of the robbery of banks in broad day light. He has to do something. But, he’s trying his best O!. I’ve heard of two robberies that were foiled by the police as the robbers arrived, one at Rukpokwu and the other along Olu-Obasanjo Road, where some robbers were also killed. This is because Rivers State Government encourages the police so much too. I give them kudos for that.
“Above all, there should be decongestion of Port Harcourt, unless that is done; the issues of traffic jam cannot be solved.
“This can be done by the government citing major establishments outside Port Harcourt, to places like Ahoada, Omagwa, Rumuosi, Choba etc. Once that is done, many people who are staying in Port Harcourt now would move because that is the only place they can get work. Of course, once Port Harcourt is decongested the issues of transportation will improve and even crime will be reduced.
“About the Monorail project, I have a fear that the monorail project may not be completed in the tenure of Governor Amaechi. And if that is the case it may suffer the fate of being abandoned by another administration.
“In 2010, when I came, I saw when they started the Monorail project. As I am talking to you now, they are still at UTC doing only pillars. I understand that the monorail will pass through Airforce base going to Aba Road, or even Oyigbo. If for two years, they are still at UTC, how many years will it take them to get to Air Force? I think that the company handling it is not as fast as it should be. Though, I do not know the space of time contained in the agreement between them and the government, but if the Monorail project is something that Amaechi wants to commission, I think he should review the contract and give it to JB, it would be better, because if it is completed it would boost the economy of the state. But my fear is that it may not be completed before 2015.
I want to advise that the government should concentrate on the welfare the people in a pattern that would reflect that actually Rivers State is an oil-rich state. For instance Ondo State government announced N22,000 minimum wage, Imo State governor announced N20,000. I think Rivers, as a major oil rich State should go beyond that.
“The multinational oil companies in the state should not be contented with paying only royalty to the State. No! Corporate social responsibility like adopting schools, adopting institutions should be exhibited by them. With the kind of oil Rivers State has I see no reason why any indigene of the State should pay school fees. Funding education and building infrastructure should be part of corporate responsibility of oil companies. Government should not be contented with the tax coming from the oil companies alone. No. The oil companies should do more viable projects.”
Prince Enyi Princewill
– NNPP Chairman, Rivers State Chapter
“As the Chairman of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), I wish to score the administration of Governor Rotimi Amaechi high in the area of infrastructural development of the state.
“The new primary schools constructed by Governor Amaechi look like secondary school structures in some other states of Nigeria. The construction of many new health centres, roads and the urban renewal effort that has changed Port Harcourt city for better are all commendable.
“However, I score the governor low in terms of carriage of members of opposition political parties along in the scheme of things. “Governor Amaechi, unless the idea is in the making, otherwise his administration has not put the idea of unity government in actual practice because you can’t mention the real opposition party member in the state executive council or even at the local government areas.
“The governor should strengthen his monitoring mechanism so that the projects, the schools and health centres could be evaluated to see how those operating them are performing.
“We have seen these laudable projects but how effective are they in terms of operation. Are the doctors actually coming to work at the health centres? The free education aspect; are some school heads and teachers actually not collecting illegal fees? Governor Amaechi should look beyond his party in appointments because no person is an encyclopedia of knowledge.
“Besides, handling all projects at a swoop is wrong. They could be phased such that they would follow a sequence instead of carrying along all projects at a time, and causing remarkable hardships to residents.
“But I commended the governor for his efforts in the direction of security of the state. The level of threats and killing has been drastically reduced, he should not relent.
“Although I am a politician I am also an agricultural scientist. So, I want Governor Amaechi to invest more on agric development and pursue vigorously, the revival of the former School to Land farms in the state which have since gone moribund. I say so because I know that agriculture is very crucial in any society and it is one of the highest employers of labour and job creation.”
Leader, Niger Delta Youth Coalition
“We could score Amaechi administration 75 per cent in terms of the way he’s carrying on to transform the state in the area of infrastructure.
“The way he improved school structures is unprecedented, and now he has capped it with a directive that more teachers be recruited.
“He has also improved on the health sector in terms of infrastructure, if compared with what he met on ground. But he should do something about developing agriculture, because that is one way of encouraging and empowering rural people who are engaged in one form of agric practice or the other. While doing that he can also look into mechanised farming.
“Because that will surely create the much touted food security and also improve the economy of the state. We also urge the Governor to ginger other Ministries to live up to expectation, like the Transport Ministry, Agriculture Ministry and the Ministry in charge of Rural Development and the supervision of local government councils.
“The administration has done one year now, they have to buckle-up in the next three years. In the area of the Mono Rail project. To be sincere with you, I think the government made a mistake in that area. They should have concentrated more on the laudable road projects. Governor Amaechi should instead have reinvigorated land rail not rail on air. They’ve not been able to manage the ground rail, not to talk of managing the one in the air that requires electricity to function. In that area, the government might fail because it is doubtful if he’ll complete that project before the end of his administration. The government should quickly reconsider and stop the Mono rail project because, so far it has marred the beauty of that section of the town, from where it is started. Even Britain that has Mono rail is abandoning it because of maintenance. We can’t maintain it here, because of poor electricity. In my view, the government should build up the waterfronts already demolished and allocate the houses to people.
“If they want to demolish another area, they first of all set an example, because if you resettle those displaced from a certain area other people in places marked for demolition will not complain, because you’ve set an example.
What we are hearing now is that they have already sold some of the waterfronts to people to build jetties. We are not against demolition for development purposes, but where you do not resettle those displaced, by taking adequate statistics, and building houses to accommodate them, people must kick against it. But we are happy that demolition has been stopped for now. To prepare the next generation for challenges ahead I want the Rivers State Government to train people in Marine, Structural and Civil Engineering and also in agricultural science to enable them meet future challenges.
Rivers State Chairman, National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Workers (NUPPPOW) and Vice Chairman, South South, NUPPPOW.
“Amaechi is a human being like other governors, he has done his best. You can see the kind of schools he has put in place, school fees, books, uniforms are free. There are some parents who have been relieved of this burden, no matter how little it may appear. He has built many hospitals, employed doctors to help the sick. And if you consider roads, there are some roads he has built of which people should be proud of. I think then in this one year period, he has done well compared to others. And he still has three years to work for Rivers people.
“I can’t say much about Mono Rail because I don’t know the financial involvement. We are all hoping to see what the project is all about. For now, I think it’s still on course. But my advice is that while government is putting structures on ground, welfare of the workers should not be relegated, welfare of Rivers people is very paramount.
“Whatever should be done to let the Rivers man know that he’s from Rivers State, should be done.
“Rivers men and women, not just workers alone should be encouraged in any sphere of empowerment, any avenue for employment or area of contract that will make Rivers people feel a sense of belonging should be encouraged by government.”
“Governor Amaechi’s administration is doing visibly well in terms of new infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, and in the award of scholarships to the Rivers Youth to study abroad. All these are good, but they should not be done at the expense of other social sectors like transportation, housing and development of rural roads. I must say that I feel disappointed that the structures, like general hospitals put in place by other administrations are being neglected. An example is the Isiokpo General Hospital. The place, last time some accident victims were rushed there, they were turned back. The hospital, built in the seventies had doctors, nurses quarters and even mortuary. But today the place has been taken over by grasses. I am sure the story is the same with some other general hospitals across the state. Even the new ones, it is doubtful if proper supervision is being done to ensure they are working, that doctors, nurses and all staff are always on duty.
“In addition, government must look into the poor condition of rural roads that constitute hardship to our rural people. The local governments are not doing enough to alleviate the suffering of their people.”
Mr Claude Wari,
“The government should come to the aid of riverine communities by providing reliable boats for marine transportation. It is disgusting that since the past 12 years no attention has been paid to marine transportation. The government should revive the Rivers Marine Transport Company and empower it to live up to the expectation of the people. For example, since the Bomu-Bonny road project is still on the drawing board, government is expected to provide reliable, safe, and affordable marine boats for transportation of goods and services to Bonny, and other riverine communities.
It should be appreciated that many lives are lost on the water routes to riverine communities but if there are reliable government boats, the incidence would be reduced.
Another area government should tackle is the area of removal of destitute from the streets of the Garden City. From Air Force to Rumuola junction to Presidential Junction some of these destitute are unsightly and should be removed from public glare.”
Transforming Nigeria Through Movies, Music, Arts
Oil since its discovery in commercial quantity in Nigeria has dominated the nation’s economy, oil exports have contributed 98 percent of the Federal Government’s revenue. This over dependence has made the Nigeria’s economy unstable, non-static and has displayed a large over dependence on oil incomes.
It is on this premise that studies have been carried out to identify other sectors of the economy that could minimise the over dependence and mono economy syndrome of the nation. One of the veritable sectors is the entertainment industry, also known as the creative sector which comprises the movie, music, comedy, arts and culture, among others.
As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of independence from colonial rule, an indepth analysis of these eventful years reveals that the creative industry is dynamic and has not only generated unprecedented wealth for the country, but has also created employment opportunities for her citizens, contributed immensely towards transforming the country into a leading nation in Africa as well as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world.
After Nigeria’s independence in October 1,1960, the cinema business rapidly expanded. In 1972, the indigenisation Decree issued by the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon encouraged the transfer of ownership of about 300 cinema houses from their foreign owners to Nigerians resulting in more Nigerians playing active roles in cinemas and film businesses.
Today, Nigeria’s film industry popularly known as Nollywood is adjudged the third largest film industry in the world after Hollywood of America and Bollywood of India and contributed 2.3 percent (N 239 billion) to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. It is one of the priority sectors identified in the economic and recovery growth plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a planned $ 1 billion in export revenue by the end of 2020.
In the music sector, music has become Nigeria’s new export, in November 2017, Nigeria’s music star, Wizkid won the Best International Act category at the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards held in London, the first for Africa-based artistes. At the same MOBO Awards, another Nigerian super star, Davido, took home the Best African Act Award for his song “IF”, a love themed ballad with a blend of Nigerian rhythms and RnB.
Since its release in February 2017, the official IF video has raked in up more than 60 million views on You Tube views for any Nigerian music video and one of the highest ever recorded for a song by an African
Across the African continent, other musical groups such as Kenya’s, boy band, Soto Sol, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz and South Africa’s Mafikizolo have collaborated with or featured Nigerian top stars in attempts to gain international appeal.
Reuters news service calls Nigerian music,’’ a cultural export’ and the Nigerian government is now looking towards the creative industry including performing arts and music to generate revenue.
Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics Report that the local music sector grew in real term by 8.4 percent for the first three months of 2016 and that in the first quarter of 2017 the sector grew by 12 percent compared with the same period one year prior.
The Price Water Cooper (PWC) reports that the global attention the Nigerian music scene has received in the past three years has been accelerating. There is no better time for Nigerian artistes to use data and insight to reach billions with their musical content which will help to reposition the country.
According to the vice president, International Strategy and Sperations Warner Music Group, Mr. Temi Adeniyi,” the promise of what could be achieved by Nigeria’s booming music industry in the next decade is awe-inspiring especially if the industry focuses on the critical issues of adequate compensation and piracy.
In Arts, the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe noted that” culture is the new revenue driving sector which can serve as an alternative to the oil sector in Nigeria “
He stated this at the official opening of the 13th edition of Akwaa Travel and Tourism fare in Lagos in 2017. He maintained that culture was a viable alternative revenue generating sector that could help to boost the economy.
According to a recent entertainment and media output report by PWC, Nigerian entertainment and media industry is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to $10.8 billion by the end of 2023.The report which was released in October 2019 disclosed that the market is dominated by internet revenue as it presently contributes about 61 percent of the sector’s revenue followed by television and radio which is expected to push towards $1billion in revenue by 2023.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “We are ready to explore and exploit the new oil. When we talk about diversifying the economy, it is not just Agriculture or solid Minerals alone, it is about the creative industry, about the films, theatre and music”.
The minister made the comments ahead of a Creative Industry Financing Conference held in Lagos in 2018.He noted that the Nigerian government is already providing incentives in the sector including a recent $1 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for young and talented Nigerians preparing to set up business in the creative industry.
He also said, “The country is allowing the industry pioneer status, meaning that those inventing in motion picture, video and TV production, music production publishing, distribution exhibition and photography can enjoy a three to five years tax holiday.
Other incentives such as government backed and privately backed investment funds are also been implemented. The minister noted that with the impressive performance so far recorded, the creative industry has been viewed as a sector that could help the government reach its goal of diversifying the nation’s economy away from oil.
Oil Exploration And Niger Delta Environment
From the first crude oil export in 1958 to the exploration of its associated products such as gas, the Niger Delta region for the past 60 years has not fared well in terms of sustained development despite being the source of the nation’s means of livelihood.
According to reports from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the region generates between 65% to 75% of all Federal Government’s revenue especially after the end of the Civil War in 1970.
But today, although oil and gas and its associated products still run the nation’s economy, its bye-products and impact on the region are quite devastating on both environment and the socio-economic life of the people of the area. The aquatic life, forests and farmlands have been so degraded that some areas are now devoid of human and animal habitation. Diseases and sickness are now prevalent with some communities are facing great health challenges.
Worried by these hazards, the late renowned playwright, and novelist, Kenuule Saro-Wiwa raised alarm in the late 1980’s about the fast paced degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta region. Although he was eventually killed during the struggle to find an equitable solution to the problem, the fight for a comprehensive study and remediation of the environment continued unabated despite the obstacles placed on would-be environmental activists.
The region is also described as one of the most polluted in the world. It is estimated that while the European Union experienced 10 incidences of oil spills in 40 years, Nigeria recorded 9,343 cases in 10 years which could be described as a deliberate effort to slowly eradicate life from the area through poisoning of the environment.
Following the long agitations and protests from the area, the Federal Government in 2016 finally gave the nod for the implementation of the long awaited United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report beginning from 2016.
In a foreword to the report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland as a case study, UNEP had this to say: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoni land is a large complex and often painful one that till date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future discussion.”
It also says, “It is also history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterised by lack of trust, paralysis and become set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned.”
The situation in Ogoniland is peculiar to the rest of the Niger Delta region.
The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State was the beginning of the environmental crisis bedeviling the Niger Delta region.
It would be recalled that the agitation for environmental reparation of the Niger Delta region dated back to the colonial times.
The agitations led to the setting up of the Willinks Commission of inquiry into the fears of the minorities. Although the commission amongst others, recommended the granting of special developmental status to the Niger Delta, the recommendation was never implemented by successive Nigerian governments after independence.
The exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Niger Delta region can be said to be of mixed blessings to the region.
On the one hand, it improved the per capita income of the region through the creation of middle and high income earners. But on the other hand, it has led to series of environmental pollutions, thereby depriving communities in the region of their sources of livelihood.
This situation has led to series of crisis in the region such as the Ogoni crisis of 1990 to 1993, the Kaiama Declaration which led to the creation of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the crisis in Umuechem in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State and others.
Similarly, the development of artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta has also been blamed for contributing to the recent acid rain and black soot in the environment.
Although the Nigerian authorities may have taken some measures to ameliorate the sufferings caused by oil explorations in the region, through the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) which metamorphosed into Federal Ministry of Environment, the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); inclusion of derivation into the Constitution and the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have not been able to provide the much-needed succour to the people of the Niger Delta as the problems still persist.
Meanwhile, experts have attributed the high rate of poverty in the Niger Delta to the environmental degradation of the region. At a recent Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo shared a documentary of the current situation in the Niger Delta, adding that the region has remained backward despite its huge economic contributions to the Nigerian nation.
Ambassador Toyo who was secretary to the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration said, “it is frustrating to know that the context has not changed as these challenges still stare the region in the face.
“The Niger Delta is still very much degraded as issues such as the following are still debated upon: gas flaring, abject poverty, militancy, crude oil theft, unemployment, cultism and organised crime, poor state of infrastructure and underdevelopment,” she said.
She also said; “apart from lack of opportunities in the region, there is also the breakdown of law and order in the communities.
“Communities often fight over who gets what when development opportunities arise as seen in some communities in Ogoni with regards to the clean-up,” adding that such fight can scare investors away and the region will continue to suffer underdevelopment.
Also in its policy brief note on insecurity in Rivers State, the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat says, “there is an environmental dimension to insecurity in Rivers State. For several years now, Port Harcourt and its environs have been covered by soot.
“This is as a result of increased artisanal refining of crude oil and other forms of pollution in the state.
“These pollution-inducing activities from both illegal artisanal and legal oil production has increased environmental insecurity in Rivers State.
“This has negatively impacted on the quality of life in Rivers State,” it said.
Also speaking on the issue, a civil society activist, Ambassador Christy Iwezor said the Nigerian nation has not done enough for the Niger Delta.
She said 60 years down the lane, some oil producing communities have no water to drink and cited the example of some communities in ogoniland in which sources of water have been polluted.
Also speaking, another civil rights activist, Prince William Chinwo stressed the need for a policy that will incorporate the polluters pay principle into the Nigerian law.
According to him, if multinational companies are fined for pollution, they will be more careful in their operations.
He also blamed environmental problems on sanitary conducts.
“The problems of environmental degradation in Nigerian is caused by poor sanitary conduct of Nigerians and inefficient use of local government council workers on environmental sanitation.”
According to him, local government councils must also wakeup to their responsibilities of ensuring improved level of hygiene in their various communities.
The question is after 60 years of independence, have we really made any meaningful progress in the Niger Delta compared to similar environments across the globe where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy. It would be noted that the gulf countries where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy have gone far ahead in terms of environmental remediation.
The 60 years anniversary should provide the opportunity for the country to further look into the Niger Delta issues.
How ICT Can Push The Envelop In National Dev
If it was just for information and its gathering, processing and transmission, it can be said without any fear of equivocation that Nigeria has never lagged, especially in the context of the development of that sector within sub-Saharan Africa. After all, the first crop of the country’s political leaders was among the best journalists and newspaper publishers in the region, namely Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ernest Ikoli and Anthony Enahoro, among others.
Azikiwe’s West African Pilot and the Western Nigeria Television inaugurated in 1959 by Awolowo served to inform, educate and entertain the people while also effectively galvanizing them for the Independence struggle of the time.
At that time, radio broadcasting had already been dominated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). All the people did was to cluster around their short-wave radio sets for an hourly dose of news from London. Private radio stations were not a common sight, if they existed at all.
Cinema was a luxury then as the mobile cinema units of the various regional information ministries travelled around to entertain mostly rural dwellers who had little or no access to electricity and television. A community was considered lucky if it enjoyed such visitation as many as three times in one year.
On the other hand, telecommunication and its associated technology did not develop as rapidly, being the more expensive. For a long time after attaining Independence on October 1, 1960, Nigerians depended on whatever communication infrastructure their British colonial masters left behind. This consisted of the local town crier system, postal and wire services (including land telephone, telegraph and cable telegram). The Post and Telecommunications (P&T) Department saw to the provision of the latter services. It was later split into the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), now privatised as NTel.
Foreign companies like the International Telephone and Telegraphs (ITT) won major contracts for the development and rehabilitation of communication infrastructure, especially after the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s. Recall that the late politician and business mogul, MKO Abiola, once rose to become its chief executive officer for the African region.
It is widely believed that not until the introduction of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) on August 6, 2001 by the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led civilian government did the face of ICT change in Nigeria.
The government took the decision to deregulate the telecom sector through its policy on adoption of ICT in 1999 by licensing such international mobile phone service providers as ECONET (now Airtel), MTN, and Etisalat (9Mobile) to set up shop in Nigeria. They were later joined by an indigenous telecom firm, Globacom, as a Second National Operator (SNO).
It could be recalled that the entry of Globacom into the telecom industry was at a time when call cost was N50 per second. The firm immediately introduced a pricing system that charged 11 kobo per second, thereby forcing a crash in the cost of mobile telephony as the competition was practically whipped into line. As if that was not enough, it soon undertook the laying of underwater international fibre-optic cable for superior service delivery.
Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) like Starcomm, Reliance Telephone (Reltel), Multilinks and Visafone were also licensed to provide mobile phone services but mainly on the fixed wireless GSM and CDMA platforms.
With regard to its social and economic impact on the nation, industry experts are agreed that the GSM revolution has led to massive employment generation. From the ubiquitous roadside under-the-umbrella call centres to the street corner cybercafés and cell phone retail shops the nation had never witnessed such rise in the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Additionally, available statistics indicate that the overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the telecoms sector stood at $32 billion in mid-2015; second only to the oil and gas sector. Others have even posited that, with the collapse of crude oil prices between 2015 and 2017, activities and earnings from this sector may have seen to Nigeria’s quick recovery from the recession of those years.
In terms of policy and regulatory oversight, ICT in Nigeria is said to be conducted under three major policy documents, namely: the National Mass Communication Policy of 1990 which implementation falls under the purview of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); the National Telecommunications Policy of 2000 with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) as chief executor; and the National Policy for Information Technology of 2001 to be executed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
NBC is the main regulator of the broadcast industry in Nigeria. Some of its activities include the issuance of broadcast licences, allocation of transmission frequencies, establishing operational standards and ensuring compliance with the broadcast code.
The Commission is, by law, required to report to the Presidency through its parent ministry (Information and National Orientation).
The NCC which came into existence via an Act in 2003 has regulatory authority over activities in the telecommunications industry. It has powers to license operators, encourage competition, ensure quality service, monitor tariffs and protect consumers, among others.
The NITDA came on board through a 2007 Act and is charged with the planning, promotion and development of IT penetration and projects across Nigeria.
There are four other policy implementation and regulatory bodies within the ICT sector. They are: the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA); NIGCOMSAT; National Frequency Management Council (NFMC); and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).
The non-ICT sector has also recorded some significant gains arising from developments in information and communications technology. For instance, the use of presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint in schools and corporate boardrooms, computer spreadsheet for accounting, e-learning, e-library, e-banking and e-commerce are some popular applications that have yielded good social and commercial dividends.
The use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (POS) terminals and mobile money transfers have helped to decongest banking halls and also save man-hours that would ordinarily have been wasted in long queues.
Another benefit of ICT was made even more manifest at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown when schools were abruptly shut down and children who could afford it engaged in virtual learning from their homes. Even some of their parents were forced to work from home using whatever ICT means available to them.
Also, the New Media which is powered by ICT and includes Internet publishing and social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have significantly enhanced real-time information sharing and social interaction with people across the globe.
Personnel management and remuneration systems have been made easier with the advent of biometric exercises, electronic time-keeping and integrated staff records and payroll methods long adopted by the private sector, and more recently, the federal, state and local governments. Even the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the systems upgrade steadily being undertaken by some of its agencies are ICT-driven.
In agriculture, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration used GSM phones to dislodge middlemen while distributing fertilizers and other farm inputs directly to beneficiaries in the rural areas. This may have served to boost food production.
After successfully emerging from the latest economic recession, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration drew up a four-year Economic Reconstruction and Growth Plan (ERGP). In this plan was included an ICT Roadmap 2017-2020 which it hoped to achieve through activities of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and which seeks to create two million jobs by the end of 2020.
Overall, the ICT sector still has the potential of yielding more positive results if only the government can follow through with some of its lofty roadmaps, especially those that aim to establish ICT Centres and Innovation Hubs in selected states across the country.
By: Ibelema Jumbo
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