The Federal Government, yesterday, said it approved the request to shut down telecommunications activities in Zamfara State following request by security agencies.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, made the disclosure while addressing newsmen after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Pantami said contrary to insinuations in some quarters, the directive did not originate from his ministry, which supervises the sector. He said the decision was taken at the behest of security agencies who had argued that it would curtail the operation of bandits in the area.
Citing security implications, he declined to say whether the shutdown would be extended to Katsina, Kaduna and other adjoining states where banditry has been rife.
He explained, however, that government was willing to sacrifice economic gains in the telecoms sector to reap security benefits. He appealed to Nigerians to show understanding and support the efforts of security agencies. He noted that information from the security circle showed that the action was yielding results.
The minister disclosed further that FEC deliberated on and approved the National Policy on Fifth Generation Networks for Nigeria’s digital economy (also known as National Policy on 5G).
Pantami said with the approval, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has been directed to immediately come up with a regulatory instrument to ensure its safety.
He said the policy discusses the benefits of 5G in Nigeria and in any part of the world. These include lower latency, larger capacity and higher data rate. “These are the three major benefits of 5G. And in a simple language, we can say it will open many opportunities economically, academically, educationally and even in the health sector. It will also support our security institutions, particularly in areas where they need high quality services.”
FEC also approved contracts for the Transmission Company of Nigeria worth N427 million.
Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, disclosed that N64, 236,625 would pay for the procurement of 40 sets of 330kV isolators.
Also approved for TCN is N362,796,000 for the procurement of 132kv chrome temporary circuit breakers, 16 sets of 33kvABB circuit breakers and 25 sets of 33kv compound units, lightning arrestors.
It also approved N500 million, being consultancy fee for the design of a second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
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