The House of Representatives, on Monday, queried the Nigerian Communications Commission over remittances and expenses from the Universal Service Provision Fund.
The House had invited regulators and operators in the telecommunication sector over poor coverage and spread of their services in Nigeria.
While the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, appeared before the House, other invitees, including the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom and 9Mobile, either sent representatives or failed to appear before the parliament.
According to the notice issued by the ad hoc committee, others to appear before the panel is the Governing Board of the USPF, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General for the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, telecommunication equipment vendors in Nigeria and civil society organizations.
They were, therefore, summoned by the House’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Need to Investigate Failure/Inability of the Nigerian Communications Commission to Promote Widespread Availability and Usage of Mobile Telecommunication Network Services throughout Nigeria As Well As Accruals/Utilisation of Funds in the Universal Service Provision Fund.
The committee, while grilling Dambatta, queried the 1014 projects under the USPF, including an e-library project that was carried out to the tune of over N2bn.
The lawmakers faulted a request by the NCC for N700bn to ensure that 27 million Nigerians have access to telecommunication coverage.
The Chairman of the committee, Bamidele Salam, pointed out that there was no specific description of what was done in the contracts as they were couched in a manner that they would be hard to track. According to him, 80 percent of the projects have no specific location.
Consequently, the committee resolved that the NCC should provide the specific address, description and specification of each of the projects whose contracts were awarded and listed in the 91-page document submitted to the panel by 2 pm on Tuesday.
Salam said, “There is a list of contracts awarded by the USPF since inception provided for us here, which is about 1014 various contracts on which a few observations have been made. There is also the submission of the annual audited report of the USPF which has been from 2007 till date, but a few years missing from the audited reports.