Government is in the process of selecting a new helmsman for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The NCC is the country’s telecom and associated sectors regulator. This sector is vital to national development because it deals with communication and information technology , both of which have strong impacts on all other sectors and are pivotal to the growth of nations worldwide.
Moreover, these disciplines provide a platform which can enable less developed countries, like Nigeria catch up with or come close to the level of the more developed countries.
Also, the exemplary regulation of the sector by the NCC managementteam led by erstwhile helmsman, Ernest Ndukwe, who was Executive Vice Chairman there brought a lot of accolades for Nigeria from far and wide. The telecom sector in Nigeria has made huge success since the deregulation in 2001. Telphone subscriber figures in the country stood at under 500,000 line in January 2001, after over 40 years of independence. In the nine short years after the deregulation of the sector and on account of the efforts of the NCC, that figure shot up to over 78 million as at this year. The sector has seen over $18 billion in investments in the same period, while tens of thousands of Nigeriand have gained direct and indirect employment and training.
Our country Nigeria also has a better image in the international investment community, on account of the successes in this sector which is superintended by the NCC. Before the deregulation of the sector and the Digital Mobile Licence (DML) auctions in 2001, Nigeria had a woeful image in the international investment commuity.
It was said that of Nigeria that her income per capita was too low to sustain capital intensive businesses : that the country was too politically unstable: that crime rate was too high: that the judicial system was too slow and winding to give relief to aggrieved parties: that basic infrastructure was poor or non-existent and that government constantly made policy flip-flops: and that on account of all these postulations, such businesses were almost sure to fail.
The success of the sector over the past years has however proved the sceptics grossly wrong, so wrong thatthat some of the compamies that called kept their distance and called Nigeria names, have since made several spirited efforts to come invest here.
These listed successes were largely on account of sound leadership and management at the NCC. With Ndukwe, the erstwhile helmsman having vacated after spending full term, the process of selecting a replacement is on. There are fit and unfit contenders. There is news in industry circles that some influence peddlers with questionable motives are presenting a candidate with no known pedigree and that President Goodluck Jonathan has resisted the pressure so far.
The dangers of a wrong choice are obvious from the above story.
There are men of knowledge, experience and integrity in this nation, inside and outside the NCC. We must seek the advice of industry leaders in this matter and ensure that the correct choice is made, in the interest of the growth and reputation of our great country.