A PAPER ON THE ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN SUPPORTING
TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
PRESENTED BY SENATOR ANYIM PIUS ANYIM AT A ONE DAY RETREAT
ORGANIZED FOR THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATION BY THE
NIGERIA COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION NCC, APRIL 2nd 2009 AT KADUNA
I am usually delighted at every opportunity to talk about democratic approaches to institutional or sectoral development in Nigeria. This explains
though with a very short notice, I did not hesitate to be here.
I am mores always excited at every opportunity to interact with my colleagues, the distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I am to speak on the Topic – THE ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN SUPPORTING
TELECOMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA.
I must confess that I had no time to really research on this topic and so I may
not be presenting a research paper rather we will simply exchange views on
My dear colleagues, I thank God for Democracy, without which there could not
be the Legislature.
The legislature it must be said is, the root of Democracy. It could be argued
that the legislature is the most important arm of every democratic governance.
There are various views on the status of the legislature in a democracy. I shall
not border you with these arguments but suffice it to say that in a parliamentary system it has been generally accepted that the legislature is supreme. However in the presidential system like ours the legislature is said to be one of the three equal arms of government ie the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Ideally, there is no gainsaying that the legislature occupies a pride of place even in a presidential democracy.
Distinguish colleagues, I have had several occasions to speak on the role of the
legislature in democracy, in each occasion I had always risen to share my most delightful experiences as a proud legislator. If you ask me why am I proud to be a legislator. I will reply as follows:
Democracy is all about people, as a legislator I am first and foremost representative of the people.
Democracy is all about rule of law, as a legislator, I am a law maker.
Democracy is all about rule by poplar policies and programmes – the legislature is the strongest arm of government for policy formulation.
In locating the role of the legislation in supporting telecommunication infrastructure development in Nigeria, am persuaded to state in brief an overview of the functions of the legislature:-
Link Between Government And The Public
Choose A Government (In Parliamentary Democracy)
In articulating the role of the legislature in telecommunication infrastructure, let no mistake be made about thinking that the role of the legislature is simply to pass telecomm bill into law, it is much more than that.
I must emphasis that before a legislator becomes a law maker he first of all would have become a representative of the people and so must be diligent in legislating on issues that affects the people.
Ladies and gentlemen, in view of the above what would be the role of the legislature in supporting infrastructural development in the telecom sector.
I am told that telecommunication infrastructure consist of those capital intensive features of the sector that makes mass transmission of messages and data possible and efficient. These include – fibre optic cable, satellite, Backbone, Broad band wireless, gateways, internet exchange servers etc.
In articulating my position on the role of the legislature in developing the above mentioned infrastructure, a brief understanding of the government position on the sector and the feedback from the public is imperative.
I belief that the responsibility of tracing the history of telecommunication Sector in Nigeria is on another speaker but for the purpose of my speech, the telecommunication is one of the sectors that has been liberalized or if you like deregulated in a sense.
To liberalise means to free something or somebody from political,
religious, legal or moral restrictions.
It is no gain saying that the word liberalization has become the fulcrum of the
21st Century international relations. It has affected political, social and economic dimensions of international relations. Proponents of liberalization argue that legal and moral restrictions can no longer avail any society if it has to progress within the contest of the scientific and economic dynamics of the 21st Century. They argue that liberalization not only guarantees progress but that it brings prosperity to all. Arguing why postcolonial Africa has remained backward. Basil Davidson said:
“if the postcolonial nation-state had become a shackle on progress as
more and more critics in Africa seem to agree… The prime reason
could appear (that) the state was not liberalizing, and protective of its
It must however be noted that critics have consistently challenged the claim of
liberalization to deliver prosperity. They argue that the effect of liberalization can never produce the same progressive result as between developed and developing nations. In fact, critics are of the strong opinion that the “freedoms” of liberalization are just the freedom for the multinationals, which stand to benefit from a relaxation of rules regulating their activities or the superpowers which are desperately in a hurry to harness whatever is left in the bosom of their developing or underdeveloped inferiors.
Dr. Chimaraoke Nnamani argues after Oxfam that
“all too often, multinational corporations or the powerful cross-border
operatives, dominate investment, production and trade; imposing
changes, which favour rich countries and technology suppliers.”
In the same vein, the UNCTAD in its trade & investment report of September,
1999 warned the developing nations about the dangers of financial and trade
liberalization according to the dictates of developed countries or multinational
agencies and institutions. Accordingly, it urged the developing nations to retain their policy options and economic instruments, including the regulatory tools to control inflows and outflows.
In view of the above, I am inclined to appreciate the true focus of liberation to
be progress, freedom and equality. But on the other hand I totally agree with
UNCTAD that the gains of liberalization may be lost if liberation programmes
are not guided, the present global financial or economic meltdown I make bold
to say have diminished every argument in favour of unguided liberalization or
if you like extreme open market system.
Arising from the above, it is therefore the role of each country to develop a
careful balance in its liberalization policy as to determine the limits of liberalisation in the interest of the people (local economy) ie what is the inflow and what is the out flow. Each country must further in accordance with It’s regulatory policies, determine the areas it must hold back for its own development or investment or for strategic reasons.
One thing is certain and critical, the global political economy is now dependent
on science and technology. This being the case, strategic government investment in telecommunication infrastructure is indispensible while allowing private participation in whatever manner.is necessary The concept of public-private partnership is a very relative concept in our development agenda. I am not sure there is any real legislation on this yet except the legislation on privatization.
The challenge before our government in developing telecom infrastructure are as follows:
- To determine the limits of liberalization
- To determine a concrete structure for public/private partnership in telecom infrastructure development.
- To develop strategies for making government investment in this regard efficient and profitable.
- To guarantee the goal of liberalization i.e progress, freedom, equality
- and prosperity for all.
The role of the legislature in achieving these challenges will include not just to
Legislate but to guarantee accountability. The legislature must also scrutinise
the processes of implementation and also make necessary budgetary provisions that will give affect to the goal of government. Public hearings might be critical to gain a better knowledge of the sector and comparative research may be necessary to obtain technical updates.
I thank you all.