Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Suburban alleges fraud on WIN project, writes Akunyili

•NCC says not aware

ANOTHER set of controversy looms in the telecommunications industry as one of the nation’s Long Distance Operator (LDO), Suburban West Africa Limited, has formally requested the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. (Mrs), Dora Akunyili to investigate the processes leading to the selection of beneficiaries in the subsidized Wire Nigeria (WiN) project by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

This project is to be funded through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and the subsidy was meant to support Long Distance Operators in deploying services nationwide especially in intercity backbone facilitation.

Apparently, the supposed defendant, NCC, was not copied, which gave credence to why the Commission’s spokesman, Mr. Reuben Muoka, said they were not aware of any such petition.

Some of the purported beneficiaries include Phase3 Telecom and Multi-Links, just as Phase3 said it was not aware of any petition, but insisted that its emergence in the process was through the necessary process for selection.

“I can however tell you that we went through the necessary process for selection,” Phase3 Telecom chief executive, Mr. Stanley Jegede told ITRealms Online when contacted on the issue via telephone.

But, according to the petition by Suburban signed by its group chief executive officer, Mr. Bruce Ayenote, a copy of which was sighted by ITRealms Online,
Akunyili’s copy was received on April 16, at the Radio House, Abuja and the Minister of State in the ministry, Mr. Labaran Maku was copied, but none to NCC.

Suburban alleged in the letter titled ‘Protest of Lack of Transparency in the process for award of Wire Nigeria (WIN) subsidy by NCC’ that it’s disturbed that after pre-qualification it never got any correspondence from NCC, coupled that Phase3Telecom got the sudsidy without pre-qualification.

They urged Akunyili to use her offices to compel NCC to uphold its much publicized tenet of ‘transparency’ by adhering to the original process which prequalified three (3) bidders of which Suburban Telecom was one.

Although, Suburban’s petition was faulted by industry experts who said that considering the currency, the company should have known that NCC reports to the Minister of State, which in this case is Maku and not directly to Akunyili, therefore, Ayenote’s led Suburban should have know based on the Nigerian Communications Act of 2003, otherwise it is political.

They, however, warned of any looming controversy that could destabilize the current presidency under Jonathan Goodluck, even as they asked why waiting until this moment to raise any doubt on the process supposedly completed over a long time.

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