As soon as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta took over the running of the commission after he was appointed by President Mohammadu Buhari in 2015, the Professor of Electrical Engineering set out to reposition the commission for the challenges of our time. This he did by drafting a very ambitious agenda. It is an agenda which he has since been carrying out judiciously.
Prof as he is fondly called knew that for any agency to survive in these days of social media and citizen journalism it needs to carry the people along and in order to carry the people along, it needs a human face. Hence, the NCC soon embarked on sensitisation campaigns around the country.
In line with the trend, the commission signed on a number of celebrities as brand faces. This in no small measure became a means to achieve the end envisaged by the commission. It became easier for Nigerians to identify with the commission.
The NCC further endeared itself to the populace not just as an arbiter in the court but as an example of what it means when an agency of government shows that it is there to look out for the little man. This the commission did by ensuring that it puts an end to problems of unwanted text messages by the operators.
The commission gave subscribers the option of opting out of these messages. This gave the commission the leeway to be able to task subscribers with helping to protect facilities after giving them a sense of belonging.
Meanwhile, the commission was also working behind the scene to ensure that the issue of poor Quality of Service by operators is eradicated or at least reduced to it barest minimum.
It employed the stick and carrot approach to get the operator to fall in line with the aspirations of the commission, always available to assist the operators but ready with the hammer when they violate regulations. It goes without saying that the QoS has improved tremendously over the last few years.
The commission recently oversaw the listing of one of the leading operators, MTN in Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. And according to the EVC, more operators are already set to be listed on the exchange. This is attributable to the strides the commission has made in stabilising the market.
Other laudable initiatives embarked upon by the commission include plans to establish emergency communication centres, internet industry code of conduct and introduction of harmonised shortcode. The commission also provided research grant to 11 universities and is setting up laboratories across the country. NCC has also been assessing and encouraging start-ups around the country.
The commission has made the ground fertile for the introduction of 5G and in the country and getting set with the prerequisite licences just like has it done with broadband licences which have helped in the increasing the internet penetration.
The commission recently vowed to ensure that these operators implement their licences to the last letter and bring back fixed telephony into the country.
Prof Danbatta served as a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Technology of Bayero University Kano for 28 and taught courses in telecommunications engineering and electronics and aslo held academic positions of Dean of the Faculty and Head of Department at different times. He recently served as a member of the Implementation Committee of the Northwest University Kano and served as the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Kano University of Science & Technology, Wudil before his appointment as EVC of NCC.