Reps reject NCC’s N700bn request to close coverage gap

The House of Representatives has rejected a request by the Nigerian Communications Commission for N700 billion to provide access to 27 million Nigerians who do not have access to telecommunication coverage.

The ad-hoc committee of the House investigating the NCC’s failure to provide telecommunications coverage and utilisation of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) rejected the request yesterday when the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Umar Garba Dambatta and his team appeared before it.

The committee, chaired by Bamidele Salam, also demanded details of over N2 billion projects under the USPF, including an e-library project carried out by the NCC.

The committee observed that in many instances, there was no specific description of what was done in the contracts and that 80 percent of the projects had no specific location.

It directed the NCC to, by 2pm today, provide the specific addresses, project description and specifications of each of the contracts awarded and listed in the 91-page document.

Earlier, Dambatta had told the committee that the NCC carried out a study through a consultant in 2013 which identified 207 clusters of access gaps of 37 million Nigerians.

“What we have done is to bring telecom services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of this country, totaling 37 million people courtesy of the consultancy that was conducted in 2013.

“By 2019, we had succeeded in reducing the clusters of access gaps to a 114 through the deployment of the necessary infrastructure needed to bring services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country. This deployment of infrastructure are the base transceiver stations,” he said.

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The committee summoned the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Auditor-General for the Federation and chief executive officers of telecommunication companies over the issue.

They are to appear before the committee tomorrow.

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