Blessing Olaifa, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ) and other security agencies to protect telecom infrastructure across the country.

This followed the request of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami.

The Department of State Security, Department of State Service (DSS), the Police and the Civil Defence Corps are also to ensure that telecom infrastructure are critical infrastructure need protection from vandalism.

In a statement the minister’s media aide, Uwa Suleiman, however, called on telecoms firms to reciprocate the gesture by reducing the price of data.

The statement noted that the telecoms industry depends on many infrastructure that play a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services.

“These are part of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) because of the important role they play, in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services,” said Uwa.

She explained that the administration identified telecoms infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure, to protect them from vandalism and theft.

According to her, the “COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.”

Uwa said: “The minister is delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.

“The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been notified of Mr President’s directive.

“We are also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments.

“Dr Pantami specially appreciates the security institutions, and commends the commitment they have demonstrated in securing these infrastructures.

“The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by Mr. President, have repositioned the ICT sector.

“This is evident by the recent ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07per cent to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020. ”

She expressed confidence that the approval by Buhari would address the challenges of vandalism of Critical National Infrastructures in the country.

It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), she added.

The Federal Government strongly urges the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure that they further reduce the price of data and calls for citizens, she said.

Uwa noted that it would reciprocate the gesture of government, and called on the telecom companies to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country.

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