Telecoms operators to support war against insurgency

Taiwo Ojedele, Abuja

Telecoms operators in Nigeria have pledged their support to the Nigerian government in tackling the insurgency in the north east.
The operators under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria made the pledge through its President, Gbenga Adebayo at a meeting hosted by Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed.
The group said that in addition to insurgency, it was willing to help the government combat other challenges such as corruption, by providing the platform for government to send messages to Nigerians on the various campaigns in the national reorientation project.
While assuring the minister of their support, the group’s President highlighted some of the challenges facing telecom operators in the country.
“The greatest challenge we have had today is the interference in the smooth operation of telecom services by agencies of government both at the local, State and Federal levels. This comes by way of multiple taxation, multiple regulations and in some cases, in an attempt by some states to increase their internally generated revenues, they have seen telecom companies as their cash cows”.
The group also called for the classification of telecoms services as a national security and economic infrastructure to insulate it from some of the major threats to its operations.
On his part, Lai Mohammed noted that enhanced communication between the government and the people as well as the success of the various campaigns embarked upon by the government was dependent on a synergy between the government and telecom service providers.
“Communication, which is at the core of your operations, is also at the very heart of these campaigns. We believe we can work with you by leveraging on your umbrella platform – the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) – to reach more Nigerians. Through your members, we believe we can pass our messages to millions of Nigerians, either through the Short Message Service (SMS) or other available means.
We are therefore appealing to you to work with us to make our various campaigns a success. As the industry body for all telecommunications companies and those providing subsidiary services to telecommunications service providers in Nigeria, you have an important role to play in these campaigns”. 
The minister further advised the telecom operators to engage relevant authorities on some of the challenges they are facing and promised that the government would continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.