Things are really falling apart at the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, as two of the commission’s arrow heads are logged in a war of supremacy. As you are reading this, members of Staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) now live in fear, as Dr. Bashir Gwandu, NCC executive Commissioner in charge of Technical Services wages a bloody war against Dr. Eugene Juwah, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Trouble however began shortly after Juwah was appointed and had been simmering over two years until it blew open recently. Bashir Gwandu had acted in a temporary position following the exit of Ernest Ndukwe and insiders allege that he had lobbied for the position but lost out because members of the board did not like him and so did not support his ascension to the post.
The President had actually ended up appointing Eugene Juwah, an engineer and PhD holder with over 30 years experience in the industry.
Insiders confided in us that Bashir Gwandu has made the NCC ungovernable since Juwah’s appointment with the simmering friction blowing into the open about two weeks ago, when Gwandu sent a petition to the Presidency, the NSA, the National Assembly and a Minister of Communications alleging underhand dealings in the sale of the 450Mhz spectrum to OpenSkys and Smile Communications.
In his petition, Gwandu posited that Juwah “without due process, went ahead to unilaterally assign the same 450Mhz frequency to OpenSkys Limited” thus making it difficult for the “police to operate its national telecoms network as well as the newly installed security systems in Abuja.”
The NCC through its Media and Publicity department quickly clarified that the award of the spectrum frequency to OpenSky happened in 2009, and thus preceded Juwah’s appointment as EVC.
The next line of attack was a more personal attack on Juwah and Bashir Gwandu’s proxies now went ahead to include the president as well as the Ministers of Communications and Finance as targets of their attack as they alleged that Juwah, the president and the ministers had colluded to endanger the security of Nigerians and fleece the country of over N1bn naira by granting a questionable waiver to MTS a company they alleged that Juwah had run down.
Investigations have however revealed that Juwah was never CEO of MTS. He was appointed in 2001 as a Consultant and later made an Executive Director. Juwah was never a part owner of MTS and neither did he run the company down. He resigned in 2005, three years before MTS folded up.
These catalogues of lies have now been exposed as an orchestrated attempt by Gwandu against, not just Juwah, but the President.
The attack on the President and Ministers is believed to have signaled the end for Gwandu who many say has shot himself in the foot and lost all goodwill.
The NCC board has already sent a recommendation to the President to sack Gwandu from the board.
Like an insight into the trouble between the two top executives it was recently reported of how the commission ran into several crisis in recent past. According to the report a deal between the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, NIGCOMSAT and a Chinese firm, with tacit collaboration of a senior executive of the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, might have made the Ministry of Police Affairs to abandon a security-related frequency for a commercial frequency, which has already been assigned to a private firm, OpenSkys Ltd, investigation revealed.
The Federal Government-owned satellite company had only in 2009 partnered with the private firm, OpenSkys, to qualify to be issued a commercial frequency on the basis of a Presidential order, however, following NIGCOMSAT-led discussions, NIGCOMSAT jettisoned the firm and opted for partnership with the Chinese firm, and the Ministry of Police Affairs, a deal for which the Federal Government was made to secure a US$470 Million loan for a frequency slot that never existed as the NCC has already issued the Nigerian Police Force a different frequency.
In desperation, the Ministry of Police Affairs, also following advice by a commissioner of the NCC, now insists that OpenSkys would have to vacate its own frequency slot for the project, a situation that has pitched the private firm which is said to have already gone to court to stop the parties from encroaching on its frequency.
It was learnt that in a bid to satisfy its commercial interest, NIGCOMSAT led the Police to believe that it could use the portion of the 450 MHz frequency meant for security transmission for commercial telecommunications and make profit like commercial companies only to discover later that the frequency allocated to police was not designed for commercial telecommunications services. Meanwhile, the equipment already supplied by the Chinese firm, ZTE, were for commercial services.
Fearing that the Police may lose huge funds in the process, the NCC executive is said to have resorted to blackmailing the Commission by alleging that due process was not followed in the allocations of the frequency to OpenSkys by the Commission, and is said to have recruited the media to fight his battle with NCC management.
Findings however indicates that under the terms given the licencees by the NCC, the Nigeria Police was to use the non-commercial segment of the band for its security transmission while OpenSkys was to deploy the other segment for its commercial telecommunications transactions.
Documents made available, confirmed that the Nigerian Frequency Management Board approved a bandwidth of 500 Kilo Hertz for the relocation of all Nigeria Police Radio Communications systems within the 450 MHz band to 469.375-469.975 MHz/459.375-459-975 MHz following a presidential directive in 2009.
Published 15 October 2012