President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the auctioning of the 5G spectrum, which generated $547million.
The president attributed the feat to the digital economy, which had driven growth, created employment and generated revenue for the country,
The president said this at the National Shared Services Centre, a one-stop-shop for Ministries, Departments and Agencies to (MDAs) interface with citizens, which also houses a Cyber Security Operations Centre, Network Centre and Call Centre in Abuja, yesterday.
According to the president, the National Shared Services Centre will provide services that are “swift, secure and seamless’’.
Buhari noted that the Information, Communication and Technology Sector (ICT) had accelerated diversification of the economy.
He said the Q2 Gross Domestic Product Report by the National Bureau of Statistics showed the extent of growth, with the ICT contributing an unprecedented 18.44per cent to the GDP, close to three times the 6.33per cent contribution of the oil sector in the same quarter.
“As part of our efforts to expand our digital infrastructure; we increased our 4G base stations from 13,823 to 36,751 from August 2019 to date, and this has increased the percentage of 4G coverage across the country from 23per cent to 77.52per cent also from August 2019 to date.
“We have also followed this up with roll-out of 5G services.
“It is noteworthy that the digital economy sector has excelled in generating revenue for the government.
“In particular, at the Ministerial Retreat that I chaired from the October 18 to October 19, 2022, our independent analysts adjudged the digital economy sector to have generated 594per cent of its revenue target from the 2019 baseline.
“This is very commendable. As part of these unprecedented achievements, the sector generated over $547million from the auctioning of the 5G spectrum alone,’’ he said.
Buhari said he was pleased to unveil and commission a number of initiatives that further express the government’s commitment to develop a sustainable digital economy in Nigeria.
“These initiatives are part of our administration’s efforts to position the digital economy as a key enabler for the diversification of our economy and as a catalyst for the transformation of every sector of our economy.
“You will recall that I unveiled and launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria on the 28th of November, 2019 and I am very proud of the giant strides and the unprecedented progress that we have made in in less than one year since the unveiling.
“To ensure that the digital economy sector remains successful and in order to reduce the burden on citizens, I recently approved the suspension of the proposed excise duty in the telecoms sector, as any initiative that will lead to hardship for the citizens would not be pursued,’’ the president said.
Buhari said the digital economy ensured continuity in governance during the restrictions that came into force as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We approved the National Policy on Virtual Engagements for Federal Public Institutions on the October 14, 2020 and this enabled us to formalise government online meetings.
“As such statutory meetings like the Federal Executive Council meetings, Council of State meetings and other meetings can now take place online, effectively and legally.
“Our administration’s commitment to promoting data promotion and privacy is receiving praise across the world and we have increased our digital identity enrolments from 39million in October 2020 to about 92million today.
“The massive increase of about 63million in about two years is a global success story and has led to several requests for partnership from countries within and outside Africa.
“I also approved the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau on the February 14, to provide an institutional framework for data protection in Nigeria, in line with global best practices,” the president told the gathering of ICT experts and government officials.
He said a number of policies and programmes to enhance the productivity of the digital economy sector had been developed.
According to him, the National Policy on NIN-SIM integration has enhanced the integrity of the National Identification Number database.
“Similarly, the Nigerian Postal Service has been repositioned through the unbundling of its services to increase its efficiency and make it more viable as a revenue generating agency of government.
“The two subsidiaries are the Property & Development Company and the Transport & Logistics Company.
“As part of the NDEPS, I approved the October 24 as the Digital Nigeria Day. I am delighted that the maiden Digital Nigeria International Conference and Exhibitions commenced on the 24th of October 2022.
“I am confident that the outcome of the conference as noted in the communiqué will support the growth of the digital economy sector.
“I signed the Nigeria Start-up Bill into law on the October 19, 2022,” he said.
According to him, the Nigeria Start-up Act is a landmark legislation of this administration to transform the pool of highly talented youth in the country into a pool of highly innovative digital entrepreneurs.
“We aim to make Nigeria a global hub for digital talent. It was an executive bill that was initiated by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,” he added.
Buhari also noted partnerships with leading global ICT companies to train Nigerians in cutting edge and high demand digital skills.
“This includes the training of five million Nigerians as part of a partnership with Microsoft Corporation.
“It also includes the training of an additional one million Nigerians in skills in areas such as block chain technologies, cyber security and data analytics, among others,” he stated.
Buhari commended the giant strides made by the digital economy sector under the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and other stakeholders, describing it as impressive.
In his remarks, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, appreciated the President for his support for the digital economy.
He noted that the economy had witnessed turnovers in broadband/Internet penetration, skills acquisition for global competitiveness and infrastructure development, like the fibre optic cable, which was about 15,000kms in 2015, and increased to more than 60,000kms.
Pantami said there had been 2,255 interventions and programmes in the higher institutions of learning, secondary schools, and some private schools, and the quarterly revenue from ICT rose from N51billion to N418billion.
He added that some prominent institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S., had shown interest in researching the pace of growth in the sector.
The minister listed many policy interventions that had directly impacted on governance, institutions, markets and citizens, assuring that the ICT would enhance the process of diversifying the economy.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, said 400 MDAs were already connected to the National Shared Services Centre.
At the close of the event, two young Nigerians, Kalim Haruna, who developed a system called “Sharp-Sharp’’ and Bashir Abubakar, founder of “Africa First’’, were honoured by the president for their creativity and ingenuity, and showcasing the nation’s talent in a global ICT conference.
Substance Abuse Becoming Thing Of Concern -Odu
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, has lauded the important role pharmacists play in the wellbeing of the society.
Odu gave this commendation while playing host to members of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor said while others are sleeping, pharmacists work hard “to ensure we all live in a better society, especially when you talk about the dangers of substance abuse.”
Odu stressed that, “It is really becoming a thing of great concern because of the level of children getting involved in this thing. It is even coming down to primary schools which now increases the burden of what you are doing, so we appreciate you for what you are doing for the society which we all are living in.”
The deputy governor extolled the lady pharmacists for the scholarship scheme they were sponsoring, noting that it was “amazing because when you change the narrative of somebody’s life, you become what they call a destiny helper.”
The deputy governor added, “So, for me, it is something I would encourage. Even the Bible says when you do it for them you have done unto God. It is a thing we get a lot of blessings out off, you may not see it now but some day it will definitely come.”
She expressed gratitude to them for their support for the Fubara-led administration which according to her has continued to spur them into action.
“Let me thank you for upholding the governor and myself in prayers, because without prayers we won’t be here, many people have prayed and God has heard, please do not stop, even for good governance, we need God to grant us the wisdom and knowledge of what to do”, she said.
In her remarks, Chairman of the Rivers State Branch of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Odom, said they were at the Government House to identify with the Governor Fubara-led administration in the ongoing restructuring of the state, and pledged their allegiance and unflinching support to the administration.
She assured that they would utilize the competences of Lady Pharmacists in Rivers State and synergize with partners for improvement in health, education, research development and socio-economic wellbeing of humanity through relevant and appropriate interventions, projects and programmes.
RSG Denies Rumours Of Cholera Outbreak In Soku
The Rivers State Government says it is not aware of any cholera outbreak in Soku community in the Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the State.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt by the State Ministry of Health.
According to the statement signed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, the clarification was necessary following numerous enquiries from the media over a purported outbreak of cholera in Soku community.
The statement read in part, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous enquiries from the Press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area.
“Public health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.”
While describing cholera as a waterborne infectious disease, the commissioner said that the disease is notifiable, warranting escalating reports from disease surveillance and notification officers at the community level.
The statement clarified that the ongoing medical outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.
“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care to underserved and vulnerable population, however, all such outreach activities must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and as such no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry”, it warned.
The ministry further said that all infectious diseases of this nature are reported, managed and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
Dr. Oreh said the statement should serve as a strong warning to anyone conducting or planning health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
She added that any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the State Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with in order to ensure the protection of the lives of the people.
“Therefore, the general public and members of the Press are advised to disregard the rumours making the round on an ongoing outbreak of cholera and the death of some citizens of Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State as it is presently unfounded, misguided and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.
“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of public health information in the state”, the statement concluded.
Bill On State Police Scales Second Reading
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading a bill to provide for the establishment of state police in the country.
Sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu and 14 others, the bill seeks to alter the relevant Sections of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for states to establish their own policing outfits.
As lawmakers took turns to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House during yesterday’s plenary, Kalu who stood in for the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, urged members to look beyond political ambitions and think about the safety of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Also speaking, Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the job of the police to maintain law and order. We have a population of over 200m people but we have a police strength that is less than 400,000. State Police should be created to address the internal security challenges of Nigeria.”
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