Wednesday, February 04, 2009

NCC won’t succumb to blackmail - Ndukwe

THE Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has declared that his leadership at the apex telecommunications regulatory body would not succumb to any intimidation.

“I want to make it categorically clear that I would not succumb to any blackmail. I don’t have money to give to anybody,” he asserted.

Ndukwe who was reacting to various allegations against his leadership at NCC by the chairman, House of Representatives committee on Information and National Orientation, Hon. Dino Melaye, last weekend, which included among others that NCC is aiding and abating exploitation of Nigerians by the telecommunications operators, especially the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) companies with respect to complaints against service providers.

“NCC under Dr. Ernest Ndukwe’s leadership is no more working for Nigerians but for the service providers because Nigerians are not enjoying their money and something urgent must be done to curb this,” Melaye said, insisting that Nigerians pay the highest tariff in the world, “yet, we do not enjoy what we pay for.”

Addressing newsmen in reaction to the allegations by Melaye, Dr. Ndukwe said that there was no basis for such claims because the existence of NCC is rooted in mission and vision of providing globally acceptable friendly environment for the operators and ensuring above all that subscribers are not shortchanged under any pretence.

He also expressed optimism that he would complete his second term in office so long as President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is satisfied with the disposition of the commission under his leadership.

“I would be in this position as long as it pleases Mr. President,” he declared, refuting the allegation that he may have interest in any of the telecom operators in the country, even as there is no plan to offer anybody any ‘special’ incentive at the National Assembly to stop any motion to probe the commission.

“So, for anybody to suggest that Honourable members of the National Assembly are being influenced in any form, is immaterial,” he said.

While regretting the inconveniences such negative media reports could have on members of parliament, especially for those whose names may have been mentioned,

“Because nothing like that ever happened and I was not even in the country.”

According to Ndukwe, based on the information available to him, there was nothing worrisome on the Melaye’s motion concerning the commission and himself, stressing that as for himself, he is not a civil servant but a political appointee who assumed his position on tenureship.

He, however, advised self-styled apostle of the people to be patience because in the next15 months, his second term would be over, wondering where on earth these apostles were when Nigeria had a little over 400,000 land lines for over 30 years before the coming of GSM auction which was globally applauded.

“Where were these people when NCC was in two detached houses in 2001 and largely dependent on the government support? Where were they when Nigerians were begging to buy a line between N150,000 and N250,000 to get a fixed line with many more still on the queue of NITEL? Where were these apostles when the Digital Mobile License auction was hailed for its transparency?” he decried.

Noting that NCC before his emergence at the helm of affairs had about 60 employees who were largely non-professionals.

“Today, we have about 300 experts serving this nation in various areas including law, engineering to name a few,” he said.

Ndukwe pointed out that as at December 2008, the nation has grown its subscriber-base to 64 million and NCC is self-reliant as far as funding is concerned.

He further decried a claim that Nigeria lost about N1.7 billion due to the five-year pioneer status granted some GSM operators.

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