Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola today received a donation of 25 Toyota patrol Vans from MTN Nigeria to the State Security Trust Fund, expressing the hope that Nigerians would one day understand the necessity for a much more formal participation of States and Local Governments in the management of security.
The Governor who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja during a courtesy visit by the management of MTN Nigeria led by its Managing Director, Mr Michael Ikpoki and the subsequent handover of the 25 patrol vans, added that there are 108 divisional Police headquarters in Lagos currently and that one of the issues that have always been looked at during most security meetings was about how to get patrol vehicles for each of them.
He explained that the ability of the divisional command in each of the Police divisions to even police their areas of operation was quite challenging “because some of them don’t even have vehicles at all to patrol”.
Governor Fashola reiterated that protection of life and property remains the most important responsibility of every government because, according to him every other responsibility, such as schools and buildings can generally be replaced but the unique asset of life once it is lost, is lost irretrievably”.
Describing the donation as an investment in not only MTN personnel, the Governor pointed out that the overall wellbeing and safety of the staffers also translates into the protection of the human capital that the company has invested so much to develop and nurture.
“I thank the MTN brand for making this voluntary contribution because if you had decided to capitalize this expense and put them in your businesses or declare them as part of your profit and after paying taxes, you distribute them among your shareholders, nobody would have any lawful basis to disagree with your decision to do so. But the ability you have to look beyond your shoulder and decide that whatever the size of the contribution, let us give back something in support of what is not only a good cause but a very sensible business investment is commendable because it is only in an environment of some security efficiency that your businesses can thrive”, he added.
The Governor commended the commitment of MTN to improve the quality of ICT services that are available not only from its stable but also in the larger field, adding that the ability of the State to deliver services in a much more efficient manner is going to be dependent on that.
“For example, we have finished the basic frame work for the issuance of electronic Certificate of Occupancy (C of Os) but in going through those documents now, millions of pages of document that one needs to read through and okay. There is only that much that you can carry at a time given the limited bandwidth that is available to this State. So in seeking efficiency, we are limited by technology and therefore the quicker we get the larger bandwidth, the better”.
“The commitment that has been reported to you about my seating in meetings with telecom operators is really because I see the big picture that you see and as I have told my team, the erection of Masts and Towers, Rights –of- Way cannot be a basis upon which the revenue of these State can be decided. There is no revenue there as far as I am concerned, the revenue is in the business opportunity that will be enabled by more technology, by more bandwidth, by more speed, by more capacity to manage and process data. So, in that respect, we are on the same page”, Governor Fashola explained.
He reiterated that for him it is not acceptable for the State to lose a road because he is gaining a bandwidth but would rather want to keep a road and also keep the bandwidth. “It is not acceptable also if I have fiber optic cables and I have a new road, to lose either of those because somebody wants to lay a gas pipeline, I also want that as well”, he said.
“So it is about the efficiencies that your contractors can bring on to the board in how they approach our roads, finding out first whether we have ducts before they dig first and ask us later, by collaborating with the Ministry of Works early in the year”.
“Immediately we pass our budget, we expect also to hear from you that you want to lay cables on this roads, you want to lay ducts on these roads and that you can see immediately from our work in January that we may have to wait two or three months to allow you do that instead of finishing the road only for you to come and cut, so those are the real issues on which we need to continue to talk about”, Governor Fashola added.
Expressing the hope that the telecom operators would focus on improving the quality of service, Governor Fashola said several people are compelled to carry multiple telephone handsets because they complain that in some places they cannot get services, stressing that some people may have ported from one network to the other but that before more people begin to port, the serious members of the business must raise their game.
“I think the next pitch is quality of service. Now we have telephones we are going to ask for more and it is not coming from all of those raffles and free services, it is coming from when the network is really busy and people get through and it is only when calls are being made in festive seasons when everybody is on a system that we can really test the reliability of the system.
“I mean, if we can make calls in Saudi Arabia where there are three to four million pilgrims in the small city of Mecca on pilgrimage at the same time, it tells you about how robust that system has become, it wasn’t like that five years ago, the system used to shut down literarily but now I can speak from there and I hope that you and your competitors would get us there in the shortest possible time. I hope it would be the beginning of a much more robust relationship between you and us”, the Governor stressed.
Speaking earlier, the Managing director and C.E.O of MTN Nigeria, Mr Michael Ikpoki, who led the team, said MTN recognizes fully the development agenda of Lagos State in developing the State to be an economic hub and a new mega city, adding that one of the things MTN would do was to be working closely on how to fully identify and support those objectives in terms of providing the relevant ICT especially in line with the new vision for the company.
“I want to on behalf of MTN thank you for personal support towards some of the issues we have had as an industry. We would continue to count on your support to address some of the challenges we have in the areas of roll out and having a harmonised tax regime that would enable us roll out faster and deliver better ICT services to support the development in Lagos State”.
“Today, the cars that we are donating is in line with our continued support for the State Security Trust Fund. We recognize that development can only be achieved in an atmosphere of security and I just want to assure you on behalf of MTN that we would continue to support the State Government in that regard”, Mr Ikpoki added.