The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Okukenu IV, has applauded the regulatory strides of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in ensuring accelerated growth of the telecommunications sector, thus making the sector a flagship enabler of Nigeria’s prosperity.
The Paramount Ruler gave the commendation when the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM) of NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, led a delegation of NCC staff to the state where the maiden edition of the Village Square Dialogue (VSD) was organised by NCC in Abeokuta.
The VSD, a version of the Telecom Consumer Conversation (a strategic, multistakeholder consumer outreach programme of NCC), took place at the 92-year-old Centenary Hall, adjacent the Alake’s Palace. The VSD is specially conceived by the NCC to interact with telecom consumers at the grassroots for the purpose of sensitising telecom consumers through information sharing, education and advocacy on telecommunications-related issues. Importantly, the forum provides an opportunity for telecom consumers in rural areas to make contributions to the governance process of the telecom ecosystem and to equally engage their service providers to resolve complaints.
Oba Gbadebo, who was the Royal Father of the Day at the event, and was represented by Oluwo of Ake, Egbaland, Chief Samuel Tanimowo, said “One of the public institutions, whose activities are felt by the generality of Nigerians in many positive ways is NCC and the leadership of the Commission must be commended for its doggedness in ensuring that Nigerians enjoy the benefits of digital revolutions.”
The monarch, who was unequivocal in describing NCC as a flagship public institution positively impacting the lives of all Nigerians, also particularly commended Adewolu, an indigene of the state, for his positive representation of the people of Owu Kingdom, Ogun State, where he hails from. “We also thank you and your entire Board and Management for bringing the first edition of the Village Square Dialogue to us in Ogun State. This is a testament to how important you take our state, which has contributed tremendously to the socio-economic and political history of Nigeria,” the first-class monarch said.
The leading monarch’s assertion was underscored by the Iyaloja of Egbaland, Chief Oluwakemi Oloyede, who thanked the NCC for the sensitization programme, which she said, had benefited not only the market women and men who attended the event but also the entire telecom consumers present, who cut across social strata.
“We have listened to all you have told us as telecom consumers, we would always recall the information when you have left us and we would also ensure that we take all measures possible to join hands in protecting telecom facilities in our vicinities for improved quality of service delivery. From all indications, doing this is for our own benefits as consumers,” Iyaloja Oloyede stated with the conviction of a good listener and leader.
Earlier in his welcome address, Adewolu, who once served as a Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs in the State, called on the community leaders and people of Ogun State to take ownership of telecommunications infrastructure in their localities and protect them from vandalism or theft.
The ECSM said Ogun State is central to telecoms growth in Nigeria in that it hosts one of the largest concentrations of users of telecoms services in Nigeria, with an active subscriber base of over eight million users as of the Fourth Quarter of 2021, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“This huge subscriber base is supported by a dynamic ecosystem of service providers, dealers, marketers and innovators. We are, therefore, here to host the maiden edition of the NCC-instituted Village Square Dialogue and to salute the legendary entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Ogun State. On behalf of the Commission, I also thank you for the warm reception accorded us and the warmth traditionally accorded telecom service providers to bolster infrastructure development”, Adewolu said.
Addressing the audience further, Adewolu said telecoms services have long been recognised as the easiest and cheapest means of meeting critical socio-economic needs such as education, financial inclusion, economic empowerment and deepening social interactions. Accordingly, Adewolu said the infrastructure through which these services are provided is called the “infrastructure of infrastructures” because they enable the digitization and seamless connectivity of all other socio-economic sectors.
“Without telecoms infrastructure, we cannot communicate with friends and family over long distances at the touch of a button, and we cannot conduct banking, insurance, governmental services, education, entertainment and many other activities with ease without telecommunications. This means that telecoms infrastructure are critical to modern existence, and we must all do what we can to ensure that we tackle anything that affects their seamless operation”, Adewolu emphasised.
“Issues like hostile communities, the theft of diesel, batteries and power-generating sets, digging up fiber lines, sealing/locking-up of Base Transceiver Station (BTS) sites and such other illegal activities must be tackled decisively by all of us. I therefore urge you all to please see telecoms infrastructure as your own, and to protect them as communal property. Anybody that tampers with telecoms infrastructure is tampering with your future and the future of your children – they should be resisted and reported,” the ECSM stated.
Also at the event, NCC’s Director of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Efosa Idehen, made a presentation elucidating on how NCC protects the interests, rights and privileges of telecom consumers. The DCA emphasized consumer obligations, especially in the area of telecoms infrastructure protection in order to ensure improved quality of service (QoS) and better quality of experience (QoE).
Similarly, a Principal Manager in the Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI) Department of NCC, Kunle Olorundare, spoke on the contributions of telecoms to the economy, mobile network development, the benefits of telecoms, network outages and their causes, and he enjoined consumers to protect telecoms infrastructure.
“By protecting the infrastructure, you are protecting every service offered on the network. You are protecting your money (Mobile Banking), your Jobs (Recharge Card and Phone business), your children’s future (Learning on the internet) and even your community (Social communication),” Olorundare said to restate the centrality of telecommunications to individuals and businesses.
The event was oversubscribed as the venue was filled to the brim with traditional rulers and other community leaders, market women and men, other telecom consumers from all walks of life, and representatives of telecoms consumers and service providers. Also, more than 90 per cent of the forum’s communication was conducted in the Yoruba language which is spoken and understood by the majority of the people in the environment, and also in Pidgin English. This choice of languages used at the forum enhanced comprehension and participation at the event, and also bolstered the appreciation of the important role NCC plays in promoting the consolidation of the growth of the telecom industry.