ABUJA – Senate President David Mark has ,Tuesday, called for the prosecution of people who were responsible for the mismanagement of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL.
Mark who was apparently angry over the way and manner NITEL was left to rot, however directed the newly inaugurated Senate Committee on Communications to probe the sale of the organisation and ensure the prosecution of people that ran the establishment aground.
The Senate President also called for the review of the nation’s laws geared towards protecting traders in the country, saying, ‘’there are no existing legislations to protect Nigerian traders especially, those doing business in China.
“Very often, Nigeria traders are on the losing end because they are not protected outside the country. If they are cheated, there are no laws out there to protect our traders especially those who travel to Asian countries, instead they are subjected to those countries’ legislation.’’
Speaking further on NITEL, Senator Mark said, “What has really happened to NITEL? A government organisation where government put in so much money and where others (competitors) are expanding and gaining attention, NITEL has just simply died and nobody is saying anything about it.”
“I remember that when GSM licences were given to operators like MTN and Glo, in fact, when MTN got its licence, M-TEL also got a licence and it just died.
“People cannot just afford to run down a government organisation and walk away as if they have done nothing at all! Those who are responsible for that type of situation must be brought to book and they must account for it.
“That’s tax payer’s money that has gone down the drain and nobody is doing anything and we’ll just fold our hands and people will still talk nonsense. Those who buried NITEL and M-TEL are walking free as if they’ve not done anything and if anything else, they expect that we should be clapping for them and paying them that they buried an organisation that should be yielding billions into the economy! So, I think the committee really has to look into that.”
Mark who also spoke on the on going SimCard registration exercise by the Nigeria Telecommunications Commission, NCC, said it was wrong for government to fund the process, just as he also kicked against the thumb printing procedure for capturing data of Nigerians, arguing that taking photographs should be enough to be registered, adding, “Well, I know that SIM card registration is going on but what baffles me is why government should budget for a service provider to register where they make money from. It doesn’t make sense to me.
“Why is government putting money in the budget for the service providers to register people? The service providers must go about and register those who have bought SIM cards from them without recourse to government purse.”
“What are you thumb-printing for? …just because you want to register (a SIM card)?
“I think an ordinary photograph should be enough because the essence is for you to be able to trace somebody who has used his phone for a business that is otherwise other than a legal one.”
“Asking people to thumbprint, even in the advanced communities, nobody is being asked to thumbprint just because he wants to buy an ordinary SIM card.
“Whilst we don’t want people to use their phones for some illegal businesses, at the same time, it should not become an avenue for people to gather data on Nigerians.
“If you want a national ID card, you should name it that way and people would thumbprint and get it. So, I don’t support the idea of thumb-printing during SIM card reregistration .”
Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, or NITEL, is the principal telecommunications company in Nigeria, and was owned by the government of Nigeria until it was sold to Mtel by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). The mobile telecommunications arm of Nitel, Nitel is responsible for all wired telecommunications in Nigeria. (More from Wikipedia).
By Henry Umoru & Inalegwu Shaibu
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