Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2.3 Ghz controversy: Reps set to release Report

Lower house of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives, would this week receive the report from the House committee on Communications on the lingering 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz) controversy.

This is coming as the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has cautioned the Federal Government (FG) over its ‘sidon look’ attitude on the matter, saying that its intervention is of national importance.

Chairman, House Committee on Communications, Mr. Dave Salako made this disclosure at the weekend, while fielding questions from newsmen after leading his team on facility tour of the fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Etisalat Nigeria’s data centre, at Lekki, Lagos.

Salako who was responding to the query that the lower house of the National Assembly and his committee precisely have been adamant over the protracted controversy surrounding 2.3 GHz sale recently, exonerated the house from such attitude, but rather said that they have taken various steps to ensure that a lasting solution prevails at the end of the day.

According to him, the House Committee on Communication had earlier invited all the feuding parties, especially the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili and leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) under the Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

Also, Salako said, that his Committee is not just folding its arms watching the crisis degenerate and that they were actually at the final stage of compiling their reports, which is likely to be presented to the house this week.

He equally assured Nigerians that they are doing everything possible to make sure that investments in the country, especially that of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are not undermined in any way that would further aggravate the poor image of the nation internationally.

Meanwhile, ALTON has cautioned the federal government not to take the 2.3GHz controversy seating down, and brace up to the occasion by making certain that its intervention supports the rule of law and of internationally accepted best practices.

They warned that the global telecommunications community, is watching the Nigerian market and these developments with keen interest.

ALTON said, the intervention of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s Federal Government (FG) on the controversial sale of 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz), has become of the essence to protect the integrity of the nation.

Chairman and publicity secretary of ALTON, Messrs Gbenga Adebayo and Damian Udeh, noted in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, that this intervention has become vital for the sustenance of the nation’s telecommunications industry and even spur the continuous growth and development of the nascent telecommunications industry.

The intervention, ALTON insisted, has become very important in the face of the controversies the 2.3GHz has generated in the past weeks, expressing concern for appropriate and prompt intervention by the presidency.

“This intervention is of the essence to preserve the continuous growth and development of our yet nascent telecommunications industry,” ALTON warned.

ALTON further pointed out that the independence and stability of the regulatory function is a prerequisite for the evolution and sustainable development in the telecommunications industry.

“Global best practice in developed and emerging markets advocates the separation of the regulatory function and oversight from government functions, which seek to protect the modern day regulator from interferences, and this has been reduced into statute in Nigeria by the provisions of the Nigeria Communications Act 2003,” he said.

In a related development, the alleged petitioner that purportedly led to the imbroglio, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Galaxy Wireless, has opened up to say that it did not petition anybody, be it the ministry, minister or the presidency.

Though Galaxy Wireless agreed it was not pleased with the outcome of the frequency sale, it has referred the matter to its attorney, according to the manager, media relations of the company, Ms Joy Idoko, in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online.

ITRealms Online recalls that the minister had alleged that based on the petition from Galaxy Wireless over its inability to clinch the 2.3G frequency to her office that she initiated complaint to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which culminated in the invitation of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

Whereas Galaxy was disqualified for its inability to make payment on time, the Ministry alleged lack of due process in the entire exercise based on the alleged petition.

While successful companies, included Mobitel Nigeria Limited, Spectranet Limited and Multilinks Telkom Limited, according to NCC.

However, reacting to media reports on the issue, Galaxy Wireless said it did not petition President Umaru Yar’Adua or any person either, directly or indirectly regarding the recent controversial licensing of national frequencies in the 2.3GHz band by NCC.

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