President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approved the request by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, to provide security for telecoms infrastructure nationwide.
As part of the policy of the federal government, Pantami has championed efforts to identify telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), with a view to protecting them from vandalisation and theft among others.
According to a statement signed by the Spokesperson to the minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to a massive migration to digital platforms, and has increased the level of the importance of CNI to the sustenance of the economy and security of the country.
According to the statement, "The minister is delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that, President Buhari has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be taken to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have all been notified of the president's directive.
"We are also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments. Pantami specially appreciates the security institutions, and commends the commitment they have demonstrated in securing these infrastructures."
The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by the president, have repositioned the ICT sector. This is evident by the recent Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product Report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07 percent to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020, Sulaiman said.
She further said the Nigerian telecommunications industry depends on a number of infrastructures that plays a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services. These, she added, were part of Critical National Infrastructure because of the important role they play in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services.
"The minister is truly grateful for the timely approval of President Buhari, and we are confident that this will address the challenge of vandalism of our infrastructure. It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025).
"Finally, the federal government strongly urges the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure that they further reduce the price of data and calls for the citizens. This is to reciprocate this gesture, and to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country," the statement added.