You are currently viewing How Gbajabiamila saved Nigeria’s telecoms from Pantami’s strange bill
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Fresh facts emerged, yesterday, on how former speaker of the House of Representatives and current Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, saved the telecom industry from a bill pushed to the 9th Assembly by former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

Pantami, who exerted so much influence under the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, had wanted to repeal the National Information Technology Development Agency Act 28 (2007) and enact a new law to provide for the administration, implementation, regulation of information technology systems and practices as well as digital economy in Nigeria and for other related matters.

The bill sought to change the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, into a full blown regulatory agency and subsume the regulatory powers of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 in it.

Vanguard learned that Pantami had secretly forwarded the bill to the National Assembly and was hurriedly passed by the Senate on May 16, 2023, in a bid to secure presidential assent before the May 29 expiration of the tenure of President Buhari.

It was learned that the bill, however, ran into a brickwall in the House of Representatives where Pantami could not effectively push his way through.

Investigation revealed that hours after the Senate passed the bill, it was pushed to the House of Representatives for concurrence and subsequently smuggled into the Order Paper for debate, even when it was not originally scheduled to be debated.


The inclusion of the bill in the Order Paper was said to have infuriated the speaker, Gbajabiamila, who handed a warning to the Clerk of the House that he didn’t want the bill in the Order Paper of the House again, because of the manner it was smuggled in.

That pronouncement by the speaker was said to be the masterstroke that finally killed the bill and saved Nigeria from potential embarrassment and loss of investor confidence in the telecom industry, considered to be the best performing sector in the country since the return to democracy in 1999.


Some stakeholders averred that had the bill been passed, it would have subsumed some functions and powers of the NCC, the authorised Nigeria telecoms regulator, which has been variously adjudged the best telecom regulator in Africa and one of the best in the world.

They also noted that the bill would have equally subsumed the technical department of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the engineering directorate of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, and yielded control of Galaxy Backbone to NITDA to make it super regulator.


Further checks revealed that to smoothen the journey of the Bill through the National Assembly, Pantami found an ally in the then Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information Communications Technology, ICT, Senator Yakubu Oseni.

It was gathered that Pantami carefully avoided going through the Senate Committee on Communications headed by Senator Oluremi Tinubu for fear that the committee would shut down the bill.

Senator Tinubu, who was known to be vocal in defending the telecom sector and its stakeholders, including investors and consumers, according to industry sources, would have declared the Pantami bill dead on arrival had it passed through her committee.

To push the bill through, Senator Oseni was said to have convoked a public hearing on the bill by the joint committee of the Senate and Reps on ICT for December 23, 2022, the day the National Assembly went on Christmas break.


The ploy, Vanguard gathered, was to ensure that only few members of the joint committee attended to ‘validate’ the bill as packaged by Pantami and passed down as an executive bill.

Credit: Vanguard


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