Special Adviser to the former Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ernest Ndukwe, Ayoola Oke has called for an urgent review of the 2003 Nigerian Communications Commission Act in a bid to protect small operators.
Oke warned that if the act was not reviewed to protect small operators, they would continue to close shops and this in the long run will affect the economy negatively.
While discussing Developing Telecommunications Law: Jurisprudence and Judicial precedents, an X-ray of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, with journalists recently in Lagos, he said in Information Communications and Technology, it is almost as if the regulator holds down the big operators and this gives reasons to why the small operators are dying without meaningful impact on the country’s economy.
“Why it is important to protect the small telecommunication companies is that big operators always end up with legacy issues,” he said.
“Section 91 and 92 talks about how NCC should regulate competition. I think there is a need to add some principle especially when it comes protecting the small and upcoming operators,” he said
He explained that the act also provided for regulatory professionalism in the constitution of the board of the commission, a governing board that must at all times be made up of all three executive commissioners and three non-executive commissioners to be valid.
Oke stated that the act contained mandatory provisions for consultation before policy and regulatory decisions, and provided for NCC to be accountable to stakeholders for its decision so that the decision-making process would be transparent and accountable.
He added that the decisions were subject to challenges and comprehensive judicial review before being finalized.
“While the powers are subject to judicial review, the procedure set out in Sections 86-87 of the act appears to have found favour with the courts. But the question remains, will the courts ever inquire into the reasoning of NCC beyond just the forms and procedures followed?”
While distinguishing between the Act of 1992 and that of 2003, Oke said that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is yet to fully implement the 2003 Act and such affecting the effectiveness of the regulatory framework.