Spectrum Licences Followed Due Process – NCC Boss
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications
Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, has broken his silence over newspaper reports
alleging underhand dealings in the allocation of spectrum licences.
The major bone of contention has been the allocation of a
frequency slot belonging to the Nigeria Police to a private firm, OpenSkys.
Juwah noted in a
telephone chat that “due process was followed in the allocation and the process
was initiated long before he assumed office.
“When I assumed office, I pledged to myself to avoid the
Nigerian penchant of jettisoning projects initiated by past administrations.
All we did was to bring to a conclusion a process that began in 2009.”
Media reports have alleged frequent spectrum racketeering by
the current leadership of the telecoms industry regulatory agency to OpenSkys
and Smile Communications.
A statement from the NCC has attempted to put the issues in
perspective by providing clarification regarding how the spectrum allocation
process is carried out.
According to the NCC, the Frequency allocations to OpenSkys
were not only in “compliance with the Nigerian Communications Act, but also in
full implementation of a Presidential Directive of July 5, 2007.
This directive was fully deliberated upon by the Board of
the Commission during its 62nd, 63rd and 64th Sittings and other subsequent
The commission noted that the provisional offer of frequency
was made to OpenSkys as far back as October 2, 2009 and at that period “the
Nigerian Police was still occupying some of the frequencies in the 450MHz Band.
The then Ministry of Communications had on October 5, 2005,
conveyed to the Police the decision of the National Frequency Management Board,
for it to be relocated by the Commission.
“The decision to allocate part of the 450Mhz frequency was
therefore not made by the NCC nor by Dr, Juwah. It was a decision that predated
his appointment by almost five years.
In fact, the NCC noted that the approval for commercial and
corporate entities to “use the 450 MHz for commercial telecommunications
was given by the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) on
November 5, 2004.
After this approval, occupants in this band like the police,
NITEL, Shell, Chevron, and some others, were relocated to specific portions of
the band. The NCC was categorical that the frequency reserved for the police
has not been tampered with or reallocated to OpenSkys, as has been alleged in
some media reports.
The relocation of occupants in the various portions of the
band was ongoing till 2009. The NFMC approved Frequency bandwidth of 500 KHz
for the Nigerian Police specifically on 469.375 – 469.975 MHz / 459.375 –
459.975 MHz of this spectrum for relocation away from the Commercial Band.
When the Inspector General of Police approved the
relocation, following further meetings with NIGCOMSAT on behalf of OpenSkys,
NIGCOMSAT also submitted the cost of the relocation. The Commission then made
an initial offer of frequency to OpenSkys on February 4, 2009, with a condition
of acceptance within 30 days. OpenSkys accepted the offer on February 23, 2009
almost two years before Dr. Juwah was appointed as EVC.
On October 2, 2009, a clear one year before Dr. Juwah was
even appointed EVC, the NCC management upon review of the status of the offer,
thereafter “issued a provisional offer of the frequency to Openskys on the
condition of payment of total spectrum fees for the 5MHz spectrum for a tenure
of 5 Years of N1,140,000,000 (One Billion, One Hundred and Forty Million Naira
Only), out of which the sum of N247,544,989.40 was earmarked for the
replacement of digital radio equipment of the Nigerian police as may result
from the relocation. The sum of N892,455,010.60 representing the balance of the
spectrum fees for the offer was to be paid to the Commission.”
The NCC noted in their statement that such fees for
Frequency allocation are “paid, mandatorily, into the federation account and a
letter of frequency assignment stating the exact frequency channels, and other
conditions of use is usually issued to the company upon receipt of proof of
These, the NCC explained are the processes in place to
ensure transparency in the process and they were all followed to the letter.
Naira, Fuel Scarcity, Insecurity, Inflation Push 24m Nigerians
Protracted insecurity, fuel scarcity, naira redesign policy and consistent high price of food commodities have been identified as key drivers that are pushing over 24 million Nigerians into food and nutrition insecurity.
While the withdrawal of the old currency notes form circulation constituted a bottleneck to households’ ability to access cash as well as food commodities, the prolonged scarcity of petrol, and the associated hike in pump price across the states on the other hand, has led to astronomical rise in transport fares and cost of food products in Nigerian markets beyond affordability.
An analysis done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other development partners has revealed.
The results show that insecurity especially, insurgency in the north-east states, mostly in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states; armed criminality and banditry in some north-west states (Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna), as well as north-central states of Benue and Niger are also responsible for the hunger.
High food inflation as evident in soaring food commodity has limited households access to food, and lack of employment and reduction in household income due to the long-term effect of COVID-19 pandemic are also culpable.
The March 2023 Cadre Harmonise (CH) analysis conducted in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) precedes a period of multiple shocks which affected livelihoods of many households last year.
The overall figures show that 24.8 million people including 18,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are expected to be in crisis (CH phase 3) or worse between June and August 2023 in those states.
While the analysis indicates that about 17.7 million people including 14, 000 IDPs are currently in acute and nutrition insecurity from March through May 2023.
In addition, 4.1 million of this population in Borno (1.9 million) Yobe (1.2 million) and Adamawa (1 million) states are projected to be phase 3 between June and August 2023.
FAO country representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero, during the release of CH result in Abuja, weekend, expressed worry of further increase vulnerability to food and malnutrition during the lean season.
According to Kafeero, Nigeria needs to re-commit and use available means and resources to mitigate further deterioration of the food security situation in the country.
For this reason, FAO said it has continued to support the government in leading the implementation of CH processes nationally, both in terms of funding and technical support, despite resource limitations and competing demands.
The Permanent setcretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, assured partners of governments’ commitment to upholding the outcome and recommendations arising from the result with a view to enhancing the food and nutrition security situation in the concerned states through objective intervention programme.
Umakhihe, who was represented by the Director, Department of Planning and Policy Coordination, Ibrahim Tanimu, called on all participants to contribute positively to the issues emanating from the results to enhance its quality, usefulness and acceptability by the spectrum of stakeholders.
PENGASSAN Committed To Workplace Gender Equality
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has reiterated its commitment to the adoption, implementation of policies and strategies that promote gender equality in workplaces.
Speaking at an event to celebrate the International Women’s Day (IWD) in Abuja, PENGASSAN’s President, Festus Osifo, asked for mechanisms to report gender-based violence and provide support to victims/survivors.
He demanded more access to health care for women, particularly in rural areas where traditional health care are not available.
According to him, “Innovation and technology have been a driving force in the global economy. Over the past few years, we have seen significant strides towards gender equality in various spheres of life, but there is still a long way to go.
“In the digital space, we believe that there is a huge disparity in women involvement due to certain factors that inhibit their abilities to develop the necessary digital skills which diminish their opportunities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Women face a lot of technical capabilities. These capabilities are always questioned as against their male counterpart.
“Women in technology may also face harassment and discrimination, both overtly and subtly. These women may struggle to find role models and mentors who have similar experiences.
“Many of these women struggle to balance the demands of their careers with their personal lives. This can be particularly challenging for women who are also raising families or caring for elderly parents”.
By: Stories Compiled By Tonye Nria-Dappa
Stakeholders Rally For Africa’s Energy Dev
Stakeholders at the just-concluded African Refiners & Distribution Association (ARDA) conference have canvassed for concerted investment in African Downstream, clean fuels, energy poverty eradication.
Critical stakeholders in the African energy have resolved to mobilise for greater investment in the continent’s energy sector.
Arising from the 2023 edition of the African Refiners & Distribution Association (ARDA) conference, which ended yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, the participants called for increased investments to accelerate Africa’s deployment of downstream infrastructure, including pipelines, storage facilities and refineries, to enable the continent to address energy poverty and achieve energy independence and sustainability.
To this end, the African Finance Corporation (AFC) revealed that it has deployed about $800 million towards supporting Africa’s refinery sector with an additional $210 million in its near-term pipeline.
Cumulatively, the AFC and the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) are investing about $16 billion in oil and gas projects across Africa.
The Global Head, Client Relations, Afreximbank, Rene Awembeng, said the company’s oil and gas portfolio exceeds $15 billion with a healthy pipeline across the entire continent.
He noted that the continent is in a critical situation where demand for energy continues to rise on the backdrop of surging population.
At the conference, stakeholders also called for retention of funds within the continent to finance the over $190 billion yearly energy investment need of the continent.
About $15 billion of the funds is being invested by Afreximbank, while AFC already invested over $800 million with additional over $200 million expected to be finalised.
With the continent relying mainly on importation of petroleum products at a time when foreign exchange demand is hovering at $100 billion yearly and required energy investment annually stands at $190 billion, Awembeng said large infrastructure development, including, refineries that would meet demand on the continent must be prioritised and supported.
He added that the creation of Africa Energy Bank remained sacrosanct to fund fossil fuel and Africa energy transition agenda.
Expressing regret that Africa remained an importer of all refined products, he said: “Africa has not invested in its refineries or refining capacity. We’ve not invested in our storage facilities. We’ve not invested in our pipelines sufficiently to meet the demand.
“So, with the COVID crisis, and now the Ukraine crisis, we are now in a very difficult position.
“A lot of the international banks and some of the banks that were financing oil and gas transactions have retreated from Africa for a number of reasons, leaving the burden on African financial institutions and some of the development financiers like the African Export Import Bank to look into the problem.
“The challenge now is that we have significant capacity to meet the demand of $190 billion every year to finance oil and gas requirements in Africa.
“Do we have capacity on the continent to support the $15 billion of rehabilitation of refining capacity required in North Africa, West Africa and East Africa? I don’t think we are.
“So, we are going into a crisis where if you look at also what is happening with food security in terms of fertilisers and grain, we have to import plus the high costs of importation of refined products. We are in a very challenging situation as a continent to be able to finance oil and gas”, Awembeng said.
In an opening statement, ARDA President, Marième Ndoye Decraene, emphasised the role improved collaboration between African downstream players and ARDA members plays in facilitating the full exploitation of Africa’s hydrocarbon resources to achieve a just and inclusive energy transition.
According to Decraene, with energy demand set to grow across the continent by 45 percent through 2050, “Our objective is to ensure Africa’s growing demand is met with cleaner fossil fuels.
“We must combine our efforts to develop a strong and effective platform to ensure the energy mix and environment are prioritised.
“We need to create a strong regulatory framework, ensure the transfer of technology, innovation and skills to maximise the downstream industry.
“Financing remains a problem and we need to make sure there is available funding and that projects are bankable while accelerating renewables penetration.
“Our aim is to make use of platforms such as ARDA Week to strengthen our current energy capabilities and come up with solutions on how Africa can address global factors hindering the industry”.
ARDA’s Executive Secretary, Anibor Kragha, said Africa’s downstream players can play to ensure the continent balances achieving energy security and environmental sustainability.
“Energy security is the short term need we have. We are not the biggest polluter in the world, hence we are focusing on uninterrupted, secure and affordable supply of energy, and not what other global parties and markets are focusing on, which is decarbonisation.
“Storage and distribution needs should be a focus. However, reducing emissions from the fuels industry should also be prioritised. By 2030, we need cleaner transport, clean cooking and power solutions”, Kragha said
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