President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly have been urged to halt moves by some top government functionaries to hurriedly licence more 5G telecommunications services.
The Chairman, Network for Best Practice and Integrity in Leadership (NEBPRIL), Hon. Victor Ogene in a statement Sunday, said the call became necessary because engaging in such an end-of-tenure bonanza in a critical sector such as telecommunications, at a time that the nation was toiling to chart new pathways in non-oil revenue, was self-serving, dubious, unethical and a brazen act of economic sabotage.
NEBPRIL said it had it on good authority that some powerful interests in the corridors of power are currently arm-twisting officials of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), to auction two additional lots of the 3.5 GHz spectrum on 5G services barely eight months after the first auction produced two investor companies at $275 million each.
It said government should rather encourage more competition in the thriving telecommunications industry by urging the NCC to introduce and licence additional Mobile Virtual Network Operation (MVNO) services, which has the potential of stimulating increased activity in the sector, especially given its potential in creating more employment opportunities and wealth in the nation.
It said: “The regulators had given a timeline of two years before another set of licenses could be issued, in order to have ample time to appraise the services, functionality and safety of the new 5G technology amid remarkable apprehension about safety; and also to give the first investors time to properly roll out and recoup some of their investments.”
To this end, NEBPRIL, therefore wondered what might have necessitated the hurry to “give away” the premium telecom licence in a less than transparent manner.
It added: “This development is not only insensitive to the investors and would-be investors; it also calls to question the government’s policy on the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“Nigeria cannot afford to continue on this path of policy inconsistency, as that would continue to harm the drive to attract more investment into the country.”
It emphasised that if a regulatory authority has given a timeline of two years before more licences would be on offer, integrity demands that such a directive was upheld in order to build and retain the confidence of both investors and consumers in the sector.
“We, therefore, call on President Buhari and the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly, to urgently take steps to put a stop to this obvious attempt at official malfeasance in the telecommunications sector, in order to save the nation from further self-serving, national economic harm being orchestrated by some unscrupulous individuals in the corridors of power,” it said.
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja