- Pantami: Stop defrauding subscribers
- Operators: Service is not a fraud
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, has, again, ordered telecoms operators to stop automatic activation of voicemails on mobile lines.
The minister said the order became imperative as his attention was “drawn to the latest trend of financial exploitation by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, through the automatic activation of the Voicemail Service on their platforms.”
However, the telcos said the allegation of fraud could not have arisen with voicemail service as it is optional for subscribers and not automatic as being insinuated.
Nonetheless, the minister said he has issued a “broad policy” directive to the sector regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines, and the subscribers given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.
“The voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default. The minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default. Voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by these networks,” Pantami said in a statement released yesterday.
Reacting to the minister’s latest directive, second in two weeks, the telecoms operators under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, (ALTON), said voicemail (VM) is a value-added service enjoyed by only those who opt-in for it.
Chairman of the Association, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said: “The current practice on some networks is that once you call and the recipient doesn’t pick, you get a voice prompt saying that the subscriber is not available and asking you to record a voice message ‘after the tone’.
“VM is a value added service and it is provisioned for those who expressly request for it. It may be recalled that MNOs reintroduced the VM facility to discourage people who “flash” continuously because flashing wastes network resources and also degrades quality of service (QoS) reporting.
“For the avoidance of doubt, you as a consumer are not billed anything, but if you delay, you may be charged for a few seconds, or for the time it takes you to record the message. The recipient of the voicemail does not get charged for listening, it is free.”
ALTON also noted that the issue of voicemail is not in any way a policy issue to warrant intervention of the minister.
“This is not a major ‘policy issue’ within the meaning of Section 23 and 24 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) which empowers the minister to formulate ‘general policy for the communications sector, after consultations organised by the NCC’. It is a mere operational/consumer protection issue which the ministry can simply call NCC’s attention to.
“This is purely consumer related issues that the minister refers to as a major policy issue and it also amounts to unnecessary interference by the minister contrary to Section 25 subsections 1 & 2 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003,” Adebayo said.
Security Trust Fund Bill scales first reading in Enugu Assembly
Enugu State Security Trust Fund and Other Connected Purposes Bill yesterday scaled first reading at the State House of Assembly.
The executive bill, which was presented by the Leader of the House, Hon. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu during the plenary, sought to provide money for the acquisition and deployment of security equipment, financial and human resources to prevent crime and preserve public security in the state. Ezeugwu said that the bill sought to promote efficiency of all security agencies as well as reserve part of the fund for training and retraining of security personnel in the state.
He said that the bill when passed would establish a board of trustees to manage the security fund to be headed by a chairman, who would not be less than 45 years of age and be appointed by the state governor.
Other details of the bill indicates that the chairman and members of the Board shall hold office for a term of three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for one further term of three year and no more.
Ezeugwu listed the functions of the Board to include procuring and maintaining of equipment “including but not limited to patrol vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, water cannons, protection vans, lorries, buses, recovery vehicles, drones and helicopters as may be required for use in Enugu state by federal, state and local government security agencies”.
Speaker Edward Ubosi said that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi would present 2020 budget proposal to the House of Assembly on17th December, 2019. Ubosi urged his colleague to get prepared as the bill would be deliberated on a later day.
Niger gov presents N148.2bn 2020 budget to Assembly
iger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, yesterday presented a budget of N148.2 billion for the 2020 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly.
The budget proposal represented a decrease of 13.2 per cent compared to the 2019 budget, which was N194, 698,816,253.00; including a supplementary budget of N30, 247,947,518.42.
The governor said the decrease indicated the readiness of the state to adjust its fiscal responsibility in line with the current economic realities of the state.
According to Governor Bello, “The budget, christened Budget of Inclusion for Sustainable Development, consists of Recurrent Expenditure of N69, 968,379,598.50 or 47.21 per cent and Capital Expenditure of N78, 243,549,951.32 or 52.79 per cent of the budget.”
He added that the budget was specifically anchored on the completion of projects that had attained 75 per cent completion and above.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abdullahi Bawa Wuse, assured the governor that the lawmakers would ensure that the budget was scrutinised and given speedy passage.
He also expressed the readiness of the Assembly to partner with the executive and security agencies in ensuring that the security challenges facing the state were brought to an end.
NAVC/ICPC canvasses youth-empowerment as panacea for corrupt practices
Abia State Coordinator of the National Anti-Corruption Volunteer Corps (NAVC/ICPC), Rev Blessed Amalambu has said that if the war against corruption would succeed in Nigeria, the citizens should be empowered to hold government accountable, stressing there should be law to end impunity in the conduct of government business.
Amalambu, who made the recommendation in Umuahia during the 2019 Anti-Corruption Day with the theme “Together we can fight against corruption,” added that the clauses in the Constitution that had given undue rights and privileges to certain offices and positions for power of monopoly in decisions and policies should be removed as monopoly or power of discretion bred corruption.
He said: “There should be transparency and access to information. In Nigeria, there is law encouraging freedom of information, but it is not applied or enforced. Vital information should be made public as to create room for proper enlightenment of the general public. “There should be community monitoring initiatives in our various local governments. This will help to detect leakages of funds and improve the quality and quantity of services.
IPPIS: FG must correct anomalies in the payroll system – Rector
s the management of the Federal School of Surveying, Oyo, prepares for mass convocation of its graduates in the past ten years, the Rector of the professional institution, Surveyor (Dr.) Dupe Olayinka, has said that the school was not opposed to the Federal Government’s policy of Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) unlike the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) but said that there were a series of anomalies in the system.
The Rector of the 111-year-old institution who spoke with journalists at the school during the 20th convocation press conference, disclosed that staff of the school had been captured twice in 2016, but in the recent capturing initiated by the Accountant-General of the Federation, 37 of the school’s staff were missing in the list released, while names of three staff already deceased surfaced on the list, and one staff that had voluntarily retired also had his name on the list. Due to the anomalies, the first female Rector and indigene of Oyo town lamented that staff’s November salary was yet to be paid.
Olayinka said: “It is better we are getting our salaries from the centre. If it is going to check corruption, there is no institution that would say no.
“The fear of ASUU and other unions is because some that have been captured have issues. After the exercise had been done in this institution, names of no fewer than 37 of our staff were missing from the list.
“Three staff who were deceased were surprisingly on the list, and one staff that had voluntarily retired had his name still on the list. This is confusing.”
Niger, foreign firm to revive Zungeru fertilizer plant
he Niger State government yesterday said it has entered into partnership with a foreign firm to revive the abandoned fertilizer plant in Zungeru to boost food and cash crop production in the state.
It will be recalled that the fertilizer plant in Zungeru, established by the military regime of Colonel Simeon Oduoye, had been abandoned for more than 20 years.
However, the state government on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Dubai-based firm, JMarine Logistics Limited, for the resuscitation of the plant and its operation by the company for the next 25 years.
Niger State Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, signed the agreement for the government while Mr. Tahir Quresh, initialled the document for the firm.
The agreement, which provided that actual work should start in the blending plant within six months, also showed that the Dubai company would inject about $12 million into the procurement of new machines for the plant.
In an address at the occasion, Matane said agriculture cannot be modernised without the use of fertilizers and mechanised farming implements, which was why the government was determined to revamp the fertilizer plant.
assured the people that raw materials were available in the state for the plant to operate, pointing out that there was also abundant labour in the state.
Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Cooperative in the state, Dr. Jibril Mustapha, said when the plant becomes operational, it would generate N4 million monthly for the government apart from employing a large number of people.
Mustspha added that the state government had provided additional land and security for the company, saying that the state and local governments also have a total of 45 per cent share in the plant.
Minister proffers solution to early girl-child marriage
he Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, yesterday said that she was committed to abolishing girl-child early marriage in the country by ensuring their education.
Tallen said the Ministry of Women Affairs was collaborating with the Ministry of Education towards addressing the issue of early marriage among Nigerian girls.
The minister spoke in Jos while addressing journalists after a town hall meeting with women from Plateau State.
She said educating the girl-child was key to unlocking access to economic and social development of the country, adding that her ministry and Ministry of Education was ensuring that girl-child education from primary to junior secondary school was free.
“Investing in girls and women education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and advance national development.”
The minister frowned at early girl-child marriage, saying her ministry would not accept nor encourage child marriage involving girls between 12 and 17 years old, but girls from 18 years and above.
“We say no to early child marriage from 12 to 17years, this is not acceptable, but we are working to end the practice such as liaising with local and religious leaders to prevail on their people to stop all practices that limit girls from achieving their potentials.”
Tallen said Plateau State was the first state to have signed the Child Rights’ Act, adding that her ministry was working towards ensuring total implementation of the Act, which was domiciled in all the states.
She said: “I commend the Plateau State government for signing the Child Rights’ Act, the benefits would lead to poverty reduction, better health outcomes, economic growth, reduced rates of child mortality and malnutrition; it would also help girls to achieve their potentials.”
The minister also said that her ministry was collaborating with female legislatures in the National Assembly towards sponsoring a bill that would protect women against violence and abuse of all kinds.
She therefore encouraged parents; stakeholders to value the girl-child to enable them have access to quality education and protection from all forms of abuse and molestation.
Harmattan: FCT Fire Service begins enlightenment campaign
he Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Fire Service yesterday commenced an aggressive fire safety enlightenment campaign in the rural areas to prevent fire disasters.
Director, FCT Fire Service, Mr. Opetunsin Julius, said the enlightenment campaign was to forestall fire disasters, by educating residents on basic fire safety measures.
Julius, who led a team of his Fire Safety and Public Education managers to Junior Secondary School, Pasali in Kuje Area Council, noted that the spate of fire disaster, not only in the nation’s capital, but across the country was alarming and needed some proactive measures to prevent it.
While inaugurating a Fire Safety Club in the school, Julius said the FCT Minister had given the fire service management a marching order to ensure that the effects of the harmattan season was properly mitigated in the territory.
He also explained that the idea behind the fire safety clubs in schools was to arouse the consciousness of preventing fire disasters in children.
According to him, the service would replicate the club in most of the schools across the territory, especially in the rural areas, to inculcate fire safety in the children, who will also assist their parents in the preventive measures.
“Prevention is better than cure, with the incessant fire outbreak in the country now, we have to do something about fire prevention, especially as harmattan season is approaching and we all know that the rate of fire outbreak during harmattan is very high than in the rainy season.
“We have to be very proactive by bringing this enlightenment programme to the people at the grassroots. I advise parents to be very vigilant at home, they should ensure that there are fire fighting equipment like fire extinguishers, blankets, they should also take some necessary safety measures to prevent fire outbreak.”
Court summons Dokubo, over alleged diversion of amnesty slots, stipends
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa on Tuesday summoned Prof Charles Dokubo, Cordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Office to appear before it on January 21, 2020.
The court, presided over by Justice Awogboro Abimbola, also dismissed an application by two ex-militants to join the suit alleging diversion of N65,000 monthly stipends for 75 amnesty beneficiaries from 2010 till date.
Ruling on application for joinder, Abimbola said that she found no merit in the application as the applicants were not a necessary part in the matter.
“I find no merit in the application for joinders as the rule for joinders require that only those whose inclusion will ensure the dispensation of justice, the application is hereby dismissed,” Abimbola said.
Two ex-militant leaders, Messrs Aso Tambo and Stephen Ebisintei had sought to be joined in a suit which alleged the diversion of stipends for 75 ex-militants who embraced the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The ex-agitators had brought the application through their Counsel, Mr Stanley Damabide before the High Court
Army: Law-abiding Nigerians have nothing to fear about our operations
rehabilitates road in Ogun
General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Olu Irefin, on Tuesday, said law-abiding citizens in the country have nothing to fear about Exercise Crocodile Smile IV.
Irefin, who reassured Nigerians about the ongoing military operation, declared that only criminals, miscreants and “those on the other side of the law” should be ready for military onslaught.
He spoke at the flag-off of road maintenance from Alamala Barracks to Lafenwa Railway in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
New Telegraph reports that the rehabilitation of the deplorable road was carried out by the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta in collaboration with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The GOC, who was accompanied by the Commander, 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, Brigadier-General E.J. Amadasun, said the Army authorities desire a hitch-free festive period for Nigerians.
He explained that the Exercise Crocodile Smile IV was designed in line with military’s constitutional role of conducting internal security operation in aid of civil authority.
APC, PDP, trade words at Osagie’s book launch
Echoes of the tension in the political leadership in Nigeria revibrated Tuesday at the presentation of a book by former Managing Director of the Sun Newspaper, Mr. Eric Osagie.
The occasion, which had in attendance, the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike as well as the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Prince Uche Secondus, became an opportunity by the leaders of the two leading political parties to throw jibes at each order.
Oshiomhole was first to throw the first salvo when he made a reference to an interview of an unnamed former Nigerian president whom he said, appeared on the popular BBC interview programme, HardTalk.
“I watched an interview with a former Nigerian president. I have enough trouble right now, so I won’t add to it, I won’t mention names. But Wike knows the person, he is associated with the person, he schooled under the person and still being overseen by the person,” Oshiomhole said.
According to him, when the former president was asked the problem of Africa he said attributed it to lack of population control to match the economic growth.
“But when he was asked that as president of Africa’s most populous nation, how much did he contributed to this population growth? How many children do you have? How many wives do you have whether now or before? That to me is courageous, that leaders should not preach what they are not doing.
“We have it on record that he has so many wives, both registered and unregistered; several children, some in dispute, and yet, you go to the Queen’s land and lecture about population.
“You are part of the people who helped to create problem instead of being role model to young ones,” the APC National Chairman added.
But Wike who responded almost immediately, drew the former Edo State governor’s attention to his statement when he won second term in office
“I remember during the Chairman’s second term as governor of Edo, he came to the villa and thanked the then president for one man, one vote. Today, do we have one man one vote? He should have carried it along to make sure that we have one man one vote.
“Two, I remember in their own time, they had what they called ‘Occupy Nigeria.’ Nobody was arrested, nobody was sent to jail. Are they practicing what they’re preaching?
“We cannot be deceived by rhetoric, we cannot be deceived by propaganda. All of know, we are not progressing, rather we are retrogressing. Nigeria is witnessing what we preach but not practising. So as a leader, call our leaders to order,” Wike demanded.
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