Buhari Has Delivered More Than Half Of His Electoral Promises -Shittu
Minister of Communications and one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s loyalists, Adebayo Shittu, recently called on the president to run for a second term in office during the 2019 general elections. In this interview with LEADERSHIP, he speaks on his reason for the call and why Nigerians should return him to office. He also speaks about his ambition to govern Oyo State in the next political dispensation. MUYIWA OYINLOLA and ANDREW ESSIEN met him.
Two years in the saddle as minister of communications, what would you say has been your greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge that I have had is the challenge that the entire ICT sector has been facing over the years and that is the challenge of having enough broadband in place Broadband is what facilitates communication whether digital
telecommunications or even voice telecommunications, telephone, Internet and all of them. You would observe that throughout the country we are still less than 30 percent with regards to broadband coverage of the country.
We’ve been working hard because ICT is about the private sector, it’s not the business of government to roll out broadband. Of course, government has to intervene in certain aspects but it is primarily the duty of the private sector people who undertake the business of ICT entrepreneurship.
They are the ones required to provide connectivity. You know when you have low capacity investment, it becomes a huge problem, so I would say that has been the major problem but we have been working hard. At least in the rural areas we also intervene to get the private sector foreign direct investment to provide solar based telecommunications facilities.
We discovered that both in India and in Canada, there are companies which have manufactured masts which do not use electricity, which use solar power because the problem of telecom companies as of today, to construct just a mast, they need about N40 million; not less than N40 million to build one mast and even when you succeed in building one mast, you must also provide two generating sets of 100kv but that is not also as challenging as the fueling of it and in all countries all over the world that I have studied, virtually in every place, entrepreneurs in the ICT sector can take for granted provision of electricity.
Unfortunately in Nigeria it is not so, so the investors would also have to look for regular funding. I have an example of one of the GSM operators who has almost 300 masts located in rural areas across the country. To lease space for these masts, about 300 masts, each one costs them $300,000 and yet income for each of these masts in a month is not more than $200,000. So, what would they do, we must appreciate them, they are in business to make profit and not to make losses so such companies eventually get forced into closing down such unprofitable masts and that makes interconnectivity more difficult for us. For me, my prayer is that we would be able to persuade foreign companies which have money to come in and also get Nigerians to look into how to also invest in this area in such a way that the profits from on area may be used to subsidise the other areas.
Provision of uninterrupted power supply was one of your campaign promises when you were coming on board. Up till now, we only have about 7,000 megawatts that are been generated and then you are canvassing for second term for presidency, how do you justify this?