Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami’s first year in office as Minister for Communications and Digital Economy has received wide attention and commendations from experts, individuals and groups within and beyond Nigeria.
This appraisal made Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper to adjudge Dr Pantami, a brilliant Islamic scholar, and a first-timer, the best minister in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The earlier official announcement of the Minister by this medium was no sheer coincidence but a product of his hard work, dedication and resilience in serving the best interest of the good people of Nigeria under President Buhari-led administration.
Indeed, one of his masterstrokes in office that gained him popularity and acclaim was his deft move in stamping out insecurity, terrorism and criminality by ordering the deactivation of unregistered, pre-registered and improperly registered SIMs in the country. This has, in no mean measure, abetted the war on terrorism and cybercrime on all fronts.
Given the revolution in Information Communication Technology (ICT), the world has turned into a global village. And, since the case is always that of two sides of a coin, while a sizeable number of people have keyed into exploiting this development for the positives, on the other hand, a segment of the population is using it to perpetrate evils and mischiefs.
Muslim News findings have revealed that most criminals own multiple SIM cards which they use for devilish purposes. Again, most of the SIM cards are always unregistered, pre-registered or improperly registered. They do this to make their tracking difficult and abortive by security and law enforcement agencies.
Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai had decried the rising rate of unregistered SIM cards, noting that it is a major stumbling block in the war against terrorism as criminal elements proved difficult to track down.
Recall that at the initiation of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration in March 28, 2011 by the previous government, two main objectives were tied to it. One was the need to mitigate security problems, especially in the area of tracking criminals by security agencies. The other, was to establish a central database of SIM card subscribers as an enabler to the overall national identification system.
It is however pathetic that many years after, this objective is far from being achieved. And what accounted for this was the challenge of unregistered, pre-registered or improperly registered SIM cards.
To his credit however, Sheikh Pantami, as the Honourable Minister is fondly called by admirers, in a bid to restore sanity to the system and pave way for effective and efficient tracking of SIM users, with a view to achieving the objective of introducing the compulsory registration of SIM cards, directed that all improperly registered SIMs be deactivated.
This action sent the right signal to criminal elements in the country and it was a major debilitating blow to them, which further depleted their ranks.
To show he meant business, Dr Pantami warned that erring telecos would be heavily sanctioned. And of course, which teleco was ready for that? So, all the telecommunication companies immediately got to work and carried out the order.
Following his directive to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), an agency under his ministry, all improperly registered SIM cards totalling 9.2 million were deactivated in two phases.
In a statement by Dr Henry Nkemadu, Director, Public Affairs, NCC in Abuja, the deactivation process was confirmed.
The statement said that the Commission efforts were in line with one of the key agendas of President Buhari to strengthen the security of lives and property for all Nigerians.
He also stated that the SIM data submitted to the Commission was constantly validated for higher efficiency to support the national security objectives of the SIM registration exercise through NCC’s zero tolerance for deviations from the proper registration process.
Most criminal elements who perpetrate criminal acts of terrorism, abduction for cash, cybercrimes are being tracked down successfully through their SIM cards. This bold step is in the right direction and has contributed enormously to the fight against criminalities.
Criminals can no longer launch attacks with surefootedness because sooner or later they would be captured.
This bold step supports Nigerian security agencies, improves the security of citizens by ensuring that SIM cards are not used for criminal activities.
RoW: Furthermore, upon assumption of office and through engagements with relevant stakeholders, the honourable Minister was able to save over 871 million on Right of Way (RoW) which was initially charged between #4500 to #5500 per linear meter and improve the economy and quality of service.
Right of Way is a legal document that grants telecom operators the ability to use the state lands to lay their infrastructures.
The challenge of RoW that hindered broadband penetration for 13 years, became a thing of the past when he met with the Nigeria Governors Forum and beseeched them to stick to the #145 national benchmark for RoW.
This lead to the downward review from #4500 to the agreed maximum #145/linear meter by some states such as Ekiti, Plateau, Katsina and Imo amounting to nearly 95% reduction and complete waiver from the likes of Kaduna and Anambra.
By implication of this, estimate cost of connecting two Local Government Areas which would have cost about #560 million would be executed with approximately #150,000.
It is important to place on record that these are some of the steps carried out by the renowned scholar when he assumed office as the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy.
To be continued….
SUPPORT MUSLIM NEWS NIGERIA
With your generous financial contributions to MUSLIM NEWS, you are helping to sustain a culture of journalistic integrity that promotes tranquil Islamic values and ensures it remains free and available to all.
Rawshield PR Company
Guaranty Trust Bank