By Okoh Aihe
In moments of ruins and integral catastrophe, certain images emerge to show the hope of man’s ability to resist turbulence and shine encouraging illuminations for humanity. In moments so surreal that people choose easy things and accept defeat, some run the race of life to overcome adversity and demonstrate human resistance.
During the Vietnam War, the most iconic image from that era was the image of a girl running down the road completely naked and screaming in pain after a napalm attack. Real name, Phan Kim Phuc, became known as the Napalm Girl, her identity defined by the terrible circumstances of that time. The bomb directly burned him to the bone, but he thought he could remove the skin and stopped the fire. She did not stay down and surrendered to death. She ran. Today she gives an image of hope as an author and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
How will the story of two of our governors be told someday long after this nightmare ends, after another dark moment in human history? Are we ever, as a people, going to sit and watch acts of villainy and heroism? The history of our country has not been particularly inspiring; like people taking a race forward but looking back, far from the goal; a people who walk in total lack of logic to Ola Rotimi’s hopes of the living dead that the leadership of this nation rejected in 1980 and has done little since then to advance our existence beyond the famous playwright’s metaphorical expression of hope . Ours is a story of failed hope and deferred expectations overseen by the Vagabonds in Fela’s power. The victory song is written by individual acts of heroism, people who subordinate themselves to the benefit and triumph of the majority.
Like the story of the two governors who recently broke ranks with the gang of governors in our interesting federation to weave a tantalizing story for the telecommunications industry. You know the history of the times, a period when people live on hope and have ashes in their mouths as reality. COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has barely accommodated human efforts and resilience. The world’s economies have fallen, and hopes for a speedy recovery are in a perpetual recession. This is the time when every kobo counts and every source of income is revered. This is the time when the two governors have decided to make their bold moves.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Ekiti State and Imo State Senator Hope Uzodinma, respectively, decided to reduce the cost of fiber installation which is generally known as the right-of-way (RoW) in the same period of N4, 500 per meter to N145 per meter.
First, it was Dr. Fayemi who as leader of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) provided the kind of leadership that is miserably absent in this part of the world. Its Executive Order No. 007 of 2020, entitled: Charges for right-of-way in telecommunications infrastructure, states in part: “The Ekiti state government wants to provide everyone living in Ekiti state, especially rural communities , affordable and reliable broadband access. connectivity. “
The Governor projects that the Executive Order will attract new business, increase investment confidence in the State, and unleash new employment opportunities.
Never to be left behind, Imo State Senator Uzodinma quickly followed in the footsteps of his Ekiti counterpart by signing Executive Order No. 002 of 2020 for his State. It expects the Order to show a willingness demonstrated by its State to attract telecommunications operators to invest in broadband infrastructure.
Commitment to people is what good politics is all about, really. The two governors are in a race on their own to provide modern telecommunications infrastructure for their states, while other governors will be forced to catch up. In fact, some of these governors recently increased RoW rates. But you must understand the settings before you begin to share blame.
Globally, the telecommunications industry is viewed by governments as a sector that can provide low-income opportunities for government operations. The situation is worse in developing countries like Nigeria, where federal, state and local councils could file different charges, even when operators have already taxed the Federation Account.
For example, the telecommunications sector was deregulated in 1992. However, the industry also suffered repressive military repressions until the Obasanjo administration, in 2000, recalibrated the sector with the appointment of Engr Ernest Ndukwe as Executive Vice President of the NCC; His project opened the sector. Unfortunately, new challenges arose. The ROW for cable routing and construction permits for the base station became problems from day one. And even Nasir el Rufai, a highly progressive minister in the Federal Capital Territory, was caught up in stubborn resistance to the deployment of the telecommunications service with the tepid explanation that base stations were not captured in the Abuja master plan.
Fast forward. elRufai is the governor of the state of Kaduna. Although he has always played in the telecommunications sector and, unfortunately, was the last entrepreneur of the late NITEL, the Rufai himself has completely given up on RoW payments in what may be a master shot at attracting providers and investors. of telecommunications services to your State. This is the way to follow.
History is being made in Nigeria. Each successive NCC administration, starting from Ndukwe, to Engr Eugene Juwah, and now Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, has fought with various government authorities to support the deployment of the telecommunications industry, resulting in the agreement in 2013, by the National Economic Council (NEC), to set rates at N145. To be fair, Dr. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, in addition to his annoying and intrusive petulance with a besieged regulatory authority, has been very optimistic in using his ministerial powers to pressure governors to do what is necessary to the industry. It is to his credit that he faced a fight and resolved to pursue it to a considerable conclusion.
These governors are changing the telecommunications ecosystem. No matter how small or remote their states may be, the operators will go there, the new companies will follow them, people’s lives will be altered and there will be a new language of social interaction. These states will integrate with the rest of the world and, well prepared, will contribute skills and services to the global economy and open their markets to a new world.
In the future, the country’s history may not be that of federating states that run to Abuja in a monthly ritual to collect allocations from the Federation’s account, but the history of governors who changed the fortunes of their states by breaking with the gang. of economically irrational reasons. lot. Like the Napalm Girl, who defeated the napalm fire, governors will be praised for breaking the blind intransigence of their colleagues and for exposing their people to the beauty and possibilities of a new world.