Nigeria is to launch a second satellite (Sat 2) into orbit with a view to boosting the nation’s satellite communications capacity.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami says he has secured the approval of President Mohammadu Buhari for purchasing the Satellite.
Pantami disclosed this during a one-day working visit and interaction with the staff of the Nigerian Communications Satellite in Lugbe Abuja.
He also informed that he had gone further to lobby the Minister of Finance to ensure that this is included in the 2022 Budget.
Though the Minister refused to disclose the amount approved and how many satellites are to be purchased, our findings show that the Federal government earmarked the sum of N2.5 billion for the Satellite 2 project in the 2022 budget estimate.
The existing Sat1R, which was launched in 2011 with a life span of 15 will expire in the next four years.
Recall that the Federal government had in 2017 announced plans to raise $550m required for the construction of two new communications satellites for Nigeria, which the Chinese Export and Import Bank accepted to provide.
According to NIGCOMSAT, the approval of the Chinese bank followed representation by Nigeria that it could not afford the 15 per cent counterpart funding required for the country to access the loan of $550m for the construction of the two new communications satellites.
Also, the minister said he had approved the establishment of some subsidiaries under NIGCOMSAT, as part of the ongoing effort to revive the institution back to the part of progress and productivity.
‘‘Since 2019, I have been so passionate about the success of NIGCOMSAT. Starting with the suspension of the privatization of NIGCOMSAT. As a matter of fact, I have secured the approval of Mr President for purchasing another Satellite. I went further to lobby the Minister of Finance to ensure that this is included in the 2022 budget. I have also approved the establishment of some subsidiaries under NIGCOMSAT as part of efforts to revive the company and make it innovative and productive.’’
Pantami, who told the staff of the company that the innovation in the agency is not enough and needs to be improved upon, charged them to turn the institution around in order to justify the suspension of the proposed privatization plan.
The Minister said, ‘‘Core values should be the guiding principle that must be adopted without compromise, to ensure that any institution is successful. You need to be customer-centric, discover the failure of services before they realize it, fix the problem and come up with innovative ideas. The innovation in the agency is not enough and needs to be improved upon
‘‘You need to change your perception because you are not part of core civil servants, you are a company and should by far be above civil servants. One of the reasons our civil service has been failing is that feeling that we are government employees, we have nothing to lose and whatever happens, we will be paid our salaries.
‘‘There are other companies that are ready to come up and start providing similar services with you. The efforts made to stop privatization of NIGCOMSAT is for the good of the company and for the good of the country.’’
‘‘You need to turn things around through the Unique and effective service you are able to provide and revenue you generate for government. It is a difficult task to revive an institution and make it very successful, that you must make. The challenge of reviving NIGCOMSAT is not just a necessity but an obligation for all the staff,’’ he added.
Speaking on the revolution in NITDA, Pantami said through innovative policies and implementation, he succeeded in raising NITDA revenue from N7 billion to N19 billion annually, an agency that was supposed to be scrapped according to Orosanaya Report.
‘‘We revived NITDA and the agency has become a reference point for any IT project.’’
On NIMC, he said they had also secured the approval of N25 billion for the agency infrastructure upgrade.
‘‘Look at NIMC and what we have achieved, the NIN environment since the inception of National Identity Card to 2020 when I assumed supervision of the commission even after billions have been spent was below 30 million, and this is direct enrollment without leveraging on any database.
‘‘Before I assumed supervision, the annual enrollment used to be around 1.5 to 2million but between October 2020 to December 2021, we increased the NIN environment by 30 million in using the obsolete infrastructure. Mr President has approved N25 billion for the infrastructure but till today, no money has been released from October 2020 to date but we are still doing the work, that is why thinking outside the box is necessary.
‘‘The achievement of this one year has been better than the previous 10 years and within that 10 years there was a time N100 billion was released but this one no single Kobo was released to us. As the DG of NITDA, I increased the revenue generation of NITDA from N7 billion annually to N19 billion. Leverage the opportunity and turn things around.
‘‘Before I became the Minister, there was an Orunsanye report that recommended that NITDA should be scrapped and that the IT clearance should be given to Galaxy Backbone but today nobody is talking about the scrapping of NITDA because the institution has turned things around.
‘‘If you turn things around, you will go back and sleep but if you fail, you will be struggling So the challenge is on your table, the earlier you use 2022 and make NIGCOMSAT better the better for all of you but if you fail to do that, many people are there waiting for me to go so that they can execute their agenda.
‘‘2022 is the best year for you to turn things around but if you fail to do that, it will be the worst year for you I don’t pray for that, I pray for the best for you but you must get your priority right,’’ he said.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Dr Abimbola Alale said the coming of the Minister has raised the hope and confidence of the staff and management of the agency through his unprecedented support and increase in yearly budgetary allocation.
She expressed delight for the support being given to the agency by the Minister and assured him that her staff would take up the new challenge and ensure that they deliver on the mandate given by the Minister.