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Opinion

The Progress Needed For Connecting The Unconnected-Y.Z Ya’u

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Y. Z. Ya’u, CITAD

In a few weeks, the global internet community will meet at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the 17th Global Internet Governance Forum to deliberate on the progress more in extending meaningful connectivity to the billions of people across the world who have remained unconnected by last year. While a number of countries have made startling progress, Nigeria has beyond the statement of attention, there has been no substantive progress in connectivity the unconnected.

Throughout the year, both in the media and through direct contact, CITAD has engaged the government via its relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), to come up with policies on community networks so as to create the space for communities to mobilize their resources and deploy community networks as a complimentary tool for bridging the connectivity gaps in the country,

Government has repeatedly stated its commitment to address the digital divide in the country. However, declaration a lone without action, cannot solve the problem. All those in the industry agree now that no one single mode of technology rollout and ownership can fit all situation in a country. This is why all countries that have succeeded in bridging their own internal digital divide have done so through the deployment of a combination of different owner types, including private, public and community ownership, to which community networks fall.

In Nigeria, as in other countries, private sector led technology rollout has failed to address the connectivity gaps as well as affordability gaps in the country, as demonstrated by figures resulting from the work of USPF that there are still about 114 clusters of communities that are either underserved or unserved and therefore experiencing connectivity challenges. The reason that the private sector cannot address this is that most of these clusters are either sparsely populated (with poor prospects for generating or even terminating tele traffic) or they are in terrains that difficult to reach, thus needing additional expenditure over and above the normal or have people who are too poor to afford the cost of connectivity. All these situations means that these communities are not profitable and thus not attractive to investors who put their money in Mobile network operators (MNOs).

It is in response to such instances of lack of profitability that global practice has developed various methods of connectivity bridging through the establishment and utilization of universal access fund. The universal access fund in Nigeria is provided in the law establishing the Universal Access Provision Find (USPF) that is funded through a special fund accruing from a profit tax of telecommunication license operators.

Although the USPF has a latitude as to how to address both connectivity and affordability gaps, it has often hoped to do that by subsidizing commercial operators rather than empowering communities to pool their resources, endowments, skills, capital to design, deploy and managed community-owned telecommunication infrastructure.

But as experience in both Nigeria and in other countries has shown that MNOs are not attracted by one off incentive from bridging authorities. Instead, they prefer a situation in which conditions are created for sustained return on investment.

Community networks not only help communities to create solutions for themselves but also create the conditions for more profits and return on investment for MNOs. This they do, first by facilitating the insertion of excluded people into the tele-traffic chain, thereby both generating and terminating traffic for the MNOs thar could otherwise have remained suppressed, thus bringing additional income streams for them. Secondly, experience has shown that one of the reasons why MNOs do not when gravitate to the one-off incentive is the cost of overall servicing of non-profitable infrastructure and sites for which the income from them is far less than the cost of maintenance. However, where are developed community networks capital exists, MNOs are able to hand over the management of their sites and infrastructure to communities to ran and manage on profit sharing basis and risk spreading. This frees the MNOs from having to spend on overhead on unperforming sites while communities are freed from investing in infrastructure. Another benefit is that by bringing these communities to cyber space, their community development potentials are enhanced through better and improved access to education, healthcare, business and entrepreneurial activities, etc and in their fuller participation in governance processes.

Government agencies are well aware of these. In meetings after meetings, both the minister and the leadership of NCC have expressed recognition of this and indicated their commitment to create the necessary framework for the seeding and sustenance of community networks. For example, in a meeting with a team from both CITAD and Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on 19 April 2021, the team of License Department of NCC not only expressed commitment but also requested CITAD to provide a background position paper on this and examples of policy frameworks from other countries. Both of these were done and delivered to them. Similarly, in a meeting with the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy later in September 2021, the Minister requested CITAD to submit to him a four pager on how to proceed with putting up a framework for community networks In Nigeria which CITAD did without delay. In December last year, when CITAD convened a consultative meeting of stakeholders of community networks, the Minister who delivered the Keynote Address through the Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), affirmed the need for policy and ensured that such policy was going to be developed sooner.

For the past three years, CITAD has been working with over 10 different communities which are determined to establish community networks in their communities. These communities have formed platforms that have been registered as legal entities for the purposes of establishing and running community networks in their respective communities. They have also applied for licenses from NCC to operate community networks. in absence of formal policy framework of community networks licensing by the regulator, all applicants for community licenses are treated the same as applications for normal commercial telecommunication licenses. This is not only cumbersome but also too costly the communities to meet.

We have spent over a year now trying to see how communities comply with these. We have gone through these requirements with a number of organizations, including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Alliance for Affordable Internet as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office which has been supported the development of community networks across the globe. The overwhelming conclusion that these conditions cannot allow for the seeding of community networks and that Nigeria needs to create a category of licenses for community networks so that communities could apply, obtain, run, and manage community networks licenses like in other parts of the world.

This has the advantage that government does not have to invest funds in addressing affordability and connectivity gaps in the country.

Following this hardship, we experienced in trying to meet the current requirements, CITAD along with its partners decided to launch a signature campaign to request the relevant authorities to create a non-commercial license category as an additional tier of connectivity providers and to grant such licenses to all communities that are desirous of operate community networks and meeting certain minimum conditions. the signature campaign started last week and so far over 200 representatives of different communities from all parts of the country have appended their signature.,

In this effort, the media has an important role to play in helping to amplify the voice of the unconnected to allow them to legally address their own connect challenge by themselves. In this connection, it important that Nigeria creates category of community license as part of its commitment to address the digital divide in the country. While on their surface media has may not see connection with its work and community networks, however on reflection, it will understand how difficult it is to report news and reports in areas where there is no connectivity. In other words, addressing the connectivity gaps will enhance the practice of journalism in the country as it will open up areas that can be classified as difficult to report for the media.

The key message here is tell the government that it is in the overall national interest of the country to recognize and grant these community licenses. This should be done urgently even before the formal request by the signatories to the campaign is submitted. The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy should direct for the empaneling of a committee to develop the necessary framework for regulating and licensing of community networks while the telecommunication regulator, the NCC should move from expression of commitment to actual actioning by granting provisional licenses to communities that present their formal applications for such licenses.

Opinion

Hailing Sunusi Musa AS Senior Advocate Of Nigeria -EL -Hamza

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Barrister Sunusi Musa SAN

Musbahu- EL -Hamza

Remember when I tracked down and handed to the police a phone snatcher in Kano? I almost ended up behind bars!

So after writing my statement at the police station, two officers almost turned the table over on me, to allege that the phone snatcher could be innocent, while I was just trying to frame him.

They took me to an office and began interrogating me. That was after discovering I was a journalist and have since posted on Facebook to call on the attention of the owner of the phone who couldn’t follow us on foot as I chased the phone snatcher. Inside of me, they’ve succeeded in scaring me, but I acted otherwise.

I summoned the courage to ask them, “Sirs, am I under arrest, so I can get my lawyer?” I had no lawyer at that time. But then the conversation began to change, and they finally allowed me to go home after taking a photograph of my ID Card, and downloading the video I posted on Facebook. “In case he wouldn’t come back or decide to delete the video,” an inspector said.

They said tomorrow I will meet with the DPO, after which we might likely have to be taken to court. I agreed and took my leave.

I was trying to make my community better, but here I am about to be framed for a crime. I was terrified. But I believe Allah was watching. Could this be the reason why people will be seeing a wrong doing and do nothing to stop it? I asked myself lots of questions.

Just a few minutes after I left the station, my phone rang. It was Barrister Sunusi Musa. I couldn’t believe it. Why would he be calling me at that very time?

“How are you, Mallam Misbahu,” he asked. Alhamdulillah, Barrister.

I only met with Barrister Sunusi twice. But we speak on the phone very often. And he place the calls most of the time. This time, I waited to hear why he was calling.

“I saw your post on Facebook. I hope the police did not release the man.”

I sighed, then narrated everything to him that transpired at the station between myself and two police officers.

“What,” he exclaimed. By Allah I could sense his frustration. He then giggled. As if it’s something expected of the officers.

Barrister finally told me not to worry. “I am currently in Abuja, but hold on with the phone, let me call someone there in Kano for a conference call.”

He literally TASKED someone I can refer to as a high ranking lawyer in Kano to go with me to the station the following day and not only make sure nothing happened to me, but that that man must be taken to court to produce the other two people who ran away. He then told me to go back to the station and wait for the DPO to come back so I can speak with him directly, ‘and not his boys’ who could be funny sometimes.

Long story short, DPO uses all words of encouragement to commend me for what I did, and assured me that this is how they want the public to be helping them to secure Kano, “since we cannot do it alone”.

He told me to go home and not bother. I bragged that my lawyers are concerned about how his boys treated me. “You have nothing to worry about, young journalist. We will deal with it appropriately.” He praised me in the presence of those officers who were trying to prove I was wrong and might probably be taken to court for what I did.

I requested the DPO’s phone number, which Sunusi asked me to try and collect, but he declined. He joked that he wouldn’t even grant me an interview because he hates being in the news. “But you’re always welcome to my office. We are now friends,” he said. Whatever. I walked home ‘a free man’, slept with my two eyes closed.

You may remember that that evening, I posted on Facebook that if you do not have a lawyer, try and get one for yourself. It’s very important. If you cannot afford signing with them, befriend one. “e get why,” and now you know why!

I am ever grateful to have Barrister Sunusi Musa around. Just as I will never forget how those police officers treated me, I will never forget through who Allah saved me from them.

Today, Barrister Sunusi Musa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). We’ve been celebrating him since his name was shortlisted. He deserved it. Read all submissions on him, you cannot miss the line stating his humility and generosity.

Sir, we love you. And we appreciate you. We pray that Allah will continue to raise your rank in this life and the next. As He used you to wipe away my worry that day, may He grant you peace in this life and Akhira, amin.

Once again, congratulations from me and my family.

Misbahu El-Hamza is the publisher of citizens report and a member of the Editorial Board NIGERIAN TRACKER

 

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Opinion

Aisha Buhari: The Downtick Of Human Rights And The Uptick Of Human Wrongs 

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By Bala Ibrahim.

I am writing this article in pain, great pain, for reasons that have to do with my training and calling as a journalist, my conscience, or my moral sense of differentiating the right from the wrong, and how these values play a guide, in shaping my behaviour as a person. For the avoidance of any ambiguity, and in order to circumvent any misinterpretation on the position from where I am talking, I must make it clear that I am writing in my personal position as a Nigerian, a Human being, and one that believes in the ambition of the rule of law. Therefore, should this article offend anyone, please, I should be held personally responsible and completely accountable, because I am not speaking on behalf of anyone or any institution, but my humble self-YUSUF BALA IBRAHIM.

For sometimes now, the Nigerian news space is AGAIN filled with the unpalatable stories of the wilful misconduct of the First lady of our dear country, Hajiya Aisha Buhari. I used the word again in capital letters on purpose, to make the reader understand that unpleasant stories about the First lady are not just regular, but fast becoming commonplace, with the latest saying she has turned herself into a puncher, using the official residence of the President, as the ground to fight with her fists, for the simple reason of defamation. Yes, defamation, which the dictionary describes as, the action of damaging the good reputation of someone, slander or libel. A kind of character assassination.

I am not a lawyer, as such, I can not claim knowledge on the proper stands of the law with regards defamation, but I studied in English language, a segment of which was even in England, where I also worked. Hence, I can say with authority, that I know the ambition of the dictionary with regards the word defamation. I am also conversant with the meaning of right and wrong, as they apply in any civilized society- the intended destination, or dream of Nigeria.

A large segment of the press has reported on the latest misconduct of the First lady, but for reasons of consensus with their correctness in reportage, I would quote the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, which had an interview on the subject matter, and reported thus:

“An undergraduate of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Aminu Adamu, has been languishing in detention after security officials comprising the police and men of the Department of State Service, arrested him over a post on Twitter alleging that the wife of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, was feeding fat on poor people’s money. Aminu’s uncle, Shehu Azare, in an interview published by BBC Hausa on Monday, said the victim’s father, Mallam Ádámù, was not aware of his arrest until about five days later. Appealing to the First Lady to release Aminu, Azare said Aminu’s father was not aware of his son’s condition until one of his friends informed him.The uncle said, “His father did not know about his arrest. It was five days later that one of Mallam Ádámù’s friends called and told him that his son had not been seen in school for about five days. That was last Monday.Then a day after, Aminu called his father and told him what was happening, that he was arrested and taken to Aso Rock by the wife of the President, Muhammad Buhari, beaten, scolded and was arrested somewhere”.

Mining Site Massacre And The Military’s Muffled Messages

Arrested for days in an undisclosed location, beaten and scolded for alleged defamation? Good God! This is not the ambition of those who crafted our laws. When I asked a lawyer friend of mine, What is the punishment for libel in Nigeria? He said,

Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act states that “any person who publishes any defamatory matter is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year.” He also added, “any person who publishes any defamatory matter knowing it to be false is liable to imprisonment for two years”. He didn’t say the person should be abducted from his location, taken to another location for beating, scolding, or endless detention.

Another lawyer argued differently, saying the person will not go to jail. It is a “tort” or civil wrong. This means that if a person/organization makes defamatory statements, the person affected may seek compensation for their damages as a result of the defamation, through a personal injury lawsuit. No mention is made that the person should be abducted from his location, taken to another location for beating, scolding, or endless detention.

For God’s sake, from where is Aisha Buhari drawing her powers? I am happy to hear that God had since came to the rescue, as she is said to be on admission with a fractured leg, occasioned by the drama of wilfully taking the law into her hands. In the history of Nigeria, no First lady had disrespected the position of the First lady as Aisha Buhari, who seems to be doing it with reckless abandon.

Our memories are still fresh of a similar misguided treatment she gave to Mallam Mamman Daura, the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, a businessman and retired civil servant of repute. History has recorded Mallam Mamman Daura as a prominent member of the old Kaduna Mafia, that comprised a group of Nigerian servants with interest in the interest of the north, including those who helped in raising Aisha to her level today.

I don’t know how conversant Aisha is with History and current affairs, but she needs to be reminded of the saying of Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Indian politician and president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, former Chief Minister of Bihar, former Railway Minister of India, and former Member of Parliament, that, in DEMOCRACY, POWER IS NOT PERMANENT.

If she doubts Mr. Prasad, she may wish to ask Madame Patience Jonathan, her immediate predecessor and the most abused and disparaged First lady of Nigeria. Yet, she kept to the meaning of that adjective, patient. By tolerating the insults without becoming annoyed, or turning herself into an Aisha, the puncher.

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Opinion

Reviving the lost glory of Science Colleges: KASSOSA Agenda

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Entrance Dawakin Kudu Science

 

Umar Idris Shuaibu

The then Kano State Government enacted a law in 1977 and the same law was amended in 1978, to establish Science Secondary Schools Management Board.

The Objective of establishing the Board is to produce Secondary School graduates that can qualify for admission into tertiary institutions, with the sole aim of producing medical Doctors, Engineers, Technicians, Scientists, Teachers, and other professionals in different places of expertise that will sufficiently serve the state and beyond.

Initially, the Board established two Science Schools one at Dawakin Kudu and the other at Dawakin Tofa.

These schools are strategically located close to Kano metropolitan for easy access to the city by the teachers who are envisaged to be recruited from overseas and equally for their Nigerian and African counterparts of similar backgrounds.

As earlier mentioned, the then government demonstrated its determination by providing class structures, teachers, instructional materials, of course, a student enrolled on merit and fed with food, that many cannot afford to boast of in their houses.

This arrangement has over the years justified the government investment with the graduates of these schools being everywhere in Kano and Jigawa and beyond in various fields of human life.

But the current status of these schools with additional after the first two is in dilapidated condition due to the lack of maintenance from the recent governments.

But the bitter truth is, one does expect the school environment to be the same even with routine maintenance.

The situation now is so pathetic with almost more than two percent current student population of 423 compared with the 162 initially admitted for the 1977/1978 session, especially with no corresponding improvement in infrastructure, furniture, hostels, classes, and toilets.

This results in congestion in classes, laboratories, and hostels, and dilapidated conditions of the dining hall.

But the notion that government alone cannot shoulder the responsibilities and problems of these Science Colleges, is why the umbrella body of the Kano Old Science Schools Students Association, popularly known as KASSOSA intervene in so many areas with a view to improving the existing situation.

One must appreciate the training given to them as they are now paying back what the government invested in them.

Currently, the school records indicated several interventions by the members of KASSOSA not only in the first two schools but for the entire science schools in Kano and Jigawa.

Reports say that from 2009 to date, 21 out of the 41 class chapters have intervened in the schools 16 times.

The interventions, however, cover the construction of hostels, and toilets, renovation of various infrastructure, and donations of teaching aides, drugs, and computers among others.

This effort by KASSOSA members made the condition of the schools far better compared to others with no such interventions.

Last year, many witnessed a fundraising event organized by the KASSOSA National Body, where they targeted N950, with a vision to rescue the Science Schools in Kano and Jigawa.

They are lucky to raise over forty million Naira from donations and pledges made by the members of the Association.

The report says part of this raised amount will be used to build the association secretariat and renovations of the schools.

And in Science College Dawakin Kudu, the class 1981 chapter of the institution single-handedly sponsored the renovation of two laboratories (Biology and Chemistry).

One must appreciate how the alma mater association of KASSOSA put heads together in ensuring their schools are in better condition.

Hope they continue due to the various competing demands on shrinking government incomes, which more hands are needed to ensure the sustenance of the schools due to the role they are playing in Kano, Jigawa, and the country at large.

 

With such effort by any alma mater association, I’m sure the lost glory will be restored.

Long live Kano State, Science Colleges, and long live Nigeria.

Umar Idris Shuaibu is a Digital Journalist, who writes from Kano.

shuaibuumaridris@gmail.com
08066616097

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