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OLADAYO POPOOLA AT 80: A GENERAL AS EXEMPLAR

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By Tunde Olusunle

If not for the military coup of December 31, 1983 which torpedoed Nigeria’s Second Republic and threw him into the public glare, he would have remained the anonymous military professional he had always been.

About 20 years before that putsch which terminated the administration of President Shehu Usman Shagari and threw up Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State, he had enlisted in the Nigerian Army. He desired to pursue a career in a vocation he had long salivated about.

Beginning from 1964 when he was in the fourth form in Aiyedaade Grammar School, Ikire in the old Western Region, he had begun this quest. That year and the following, he wrote entrance examinations for the Nigerian Defence Academy, (NDA), Kaduna but was not offered admission.

Fate finally beckoned to him in 1967 when the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War impelled the military authorities to recruit more officers. His possession of a West African School Certificate, (WASC) enabled his integration into the army via short service commission in 1967.

Thereafter, he was posted to the “Federal Guards, Lagos” most probably the contemporary equivalent of the “Brigade of Guards” which was responsible for the security of the seat of federal administration. He found himself in the thick of battle in 1968 in Asaba, in the former Midwestern State, surviving a bullet graze to his head.

Between 1971 and 1975, he was an instructor at the Nigerian Military Training College, (NMTC), Zaria jetting off to India within the period to attend the Battalion Support Weapons Course, in 1974. He equally had on-the-job training at the Royal Army Records Office, Stanmore, England in 1976. He trained at the Army Command and Staff College, (ACSC) between 1977 and 1978, which prepared him for elevation to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. From Port Harcourt to Yola and thenceforth to India and Kaduna, the itinerant imperative of his job took him regularly around.

Whereas his regimental calling kept him away from the public sphere, things changed in January 1984 when the Buhari government posted Oladayo Popoola then still a Lieutenant Colonel to his home state of Oyo as Military Governor. The Oyo State of that time is today’s Oyo and Osun.

Buhari was unceremoniously unseated on August 27, 1985 barely 20 months in office and replaced by Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida his Chief of Army Staff, (COAS). Babangida believed that military officers overseeing the states as chief executives would be more objective in the discharge of their duties if they served outside of their home environments.

Reaffirming his confidence in Popoola, Babangida redeployed him to Ogun State in 1985 and remained in office until 1986 when he returned to regular military duties.

Popoola promptly overcame the initial shock of his transmutation from strictly military to a quasi-political official regimen. He needed to de-politicise the civil service; manage a bloated bureaucracy with as many as 44 Permanent Secretaries at the apex of statecraft and reorganise an education sector substantially bastardised in the name of politics. The “free education” programme enunciated by the Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) and operationalised in the South West where the party was dominant, ensured state governments picked the bills for primary and secondary school pupils.

The Oyo State Executive Council under Popoola, however, was compelled to reintroduce fees at the secondary school level, to forestall the breakdown of education at that level. He equally deftly navigated the time bomb of the rotation of the chairmanship of the Oyo State Council of Chiefs, unwittingly planted by his immediate predecessor, Dr Omololu Olunloyo.

His 20-month “apprenticeship” in Oyo State facilitated his seamless integration into the Ogun State system when he succeeded Donaldson Oladipo Diya September 4, 1985. Popoola met a disinterested populace and disenchanted civil service, allegedly terrorised by his predecessor in consonance with the “no-nonsense” mantra of the Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon government.

Popoola introduced a rare populist programme, the “Village Square Meeting” which took governance to the people. Commissioners and senior civil servants were encouraged to visit the people of Ogun State in their communities and villages, by the Popoola milieu. They discerned the sentimentts of the people and relayed same to the military governor for necessary action. He wrote personalised letters to privileged indigenes of Ogun State who stayed away to avoid collisions with the Diya government.

Upon attaining the rank of Colonel in 1986, Oladayo Popoola was posted to the Army Headquarters as Director of Personnel Services in the Adjutant-General’s Office. He attended the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos in 1990 and returned to the position of Director, Manpower Planning, Army Headquarters in 1991. Side by side with his military duties, Popoola registered for a part-time, five-year course in Law at the University of Lagos. He was excused to attend the one-year programme preceding the formal call-to-bar of attorneys, at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos in 1991, the same year he was promoted Brigadier-General. Back at the Army Headquarters his favourite grounds, he became Director of Personnel Services in 1993 and soon after, Director of Legal Services.

He was Chief of Administration in 1994; Chief of Logistics from 1997 to 1998 and then General Officer Commanding, (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army headquartered in Enugu. Concurrently, he was appointed member of the Provisional Ruling Council, (PRC), the highest policy and administrative body of the military government. That was the moniker crafted and preferred by Sani Abacha the army General who swept aside the “Interim National Government,” (ING) situated by his former principal, Babangida, at the beginning of his reign in November 1993.

Popoola was promoted Major-General in 1996. As Chief of Administration, (Army), he fully supported the initiative of a post-service housing scheme for the Army under the Abacha government. Popoola had justified his proposal against the backdrop of the imperative for decent accommodation for officers and men who wholly and selflessly invest in safeguarding and defending the country. Sources close to the former military Head of State recall that Abacha bought into the proposal chiefly because of the flawless integrity of the initiator, Oladayo Popoola. The Nigerian Army Housing Scheme has since been replicated by other services, military and paramilitary.

Indeed, the self-funding scheme has since become a pacesetter for the nation’s then nascent affordable housing industry.

In March 1999, he chaired the Presidential Committee on Development Options for the Niger Delta. The Committee recommended increased funding for infrastructural development in that oil-bearing catchment of the country, and the setting up of a “Niger Delta Consultative Council,” (NDCC).

He retired voluntarily from military service after logging 32 eventful years in service, in 1999. Many of his colleagues have been recycled in the nation’s political scheme especially with the advent of democratic rulership in the past 25 years. Popoola, however, has functioned from the quiet corner of a private entrepreneur and community leader, within the context of Ogbomoso his birthplace and Oyo State at large.

For over six years, he has been the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Precious Cornerstone University, (PCU), which is located in Ibadan, as part of the reinvestment of his experiences into the national development project.

Oladayo Popoola was born on February 26, 1944 in Isale Ora,Ogbomoso. He grew up at Nguru in present day Yobe State, Abeokuta and Ibadan owing to the itinerant character of his father’s vocations as tailor and trader. He attended Baptist Day School, Ijaiye, Abeokuta for his elementary education, and African Church Secondary Modern School, Apata, Ibadan as well as Aiyedaade Grammar School, Ikire for his secondary education.

A thanksgiving service was held in Ibadan on Monday February 26, 2024 to commemorate the event of his 80thbirthday. Governor Seyi Makinde lauded Popoola’s uncommon altruism. He alluded to manner in which Popoola competently steered a crack team of elder statesmen, including Professor Daud Sangodoyin to amicably resolve the contestation between Oyo and Osun states for the ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, (LAUTECH).

The institution was a subject of fiery controversy between Oyo and Osun states having being actualized before the excision of contemporary Osun State in 1991, from the ribs of the erstwhile monolithic Oyo State, with campuses in the original owner states.

National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, (PFN), Bishop Wale Oke extolled Popoola’s humility, fear of God and fiscal frugality. Pastor Dotun Ajayi of the Vine Branch Church who delivered the sermon at the event congratulated Popoola for making it to the pedestals of octogenarians “in a country where life expectancy is 47 years for males and 52 for females. Ogun State which Popoola also served as military governor was represented by Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Deputy Governor of the state.

A Gala Night dinner was also held for General Popoola by senior serving and retired officers of the Nigerian Army Second Division domiciled in Ibadan. The tribute of the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lieutenant-General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja to the celebrant was presented by the General Officer Commanding, (GOC) 2Division, Major-General Bamidele Alabi.

According to Lagbaja, Popoola’s “commitment to excellence and mentorship has been truly inspiring. Your legacies continue to live on and on in the hearts of those you have guided in our noble profession. Your impact in different segments of the society and the country at large has remained indelible in the sands of time.”

As a young Major, Popoola wedded his heartthrob Adebisi Adeoye on December 27, 1975. The union has been graciously blessed with children and grandchildren who are holding their own.

For his unalloyed service to country in the course of his exemplary career, he has since been decorated with the respected honour of “Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic, (OFR).” In April 2022, Popoola was conferred with an honorary doctorate, honoris causa by LAUTECH in acknowledgement of his contributions to national growth, among several other recognitions and acclamations.

• Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA).

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Opinion

DOUBLE CELEBRATION FOR REPS’ OPPOSITION LEADER; KINGSLEY CHINDA

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BY BOLAJI AFOLABI

In 2011, when Duncan Mighty; one of Nigeria’s gifted, creative musician sang “Port Harcourt First Son” it became an instant hit. The uniqueness and ingenuity displayed by the Niger Delta-born social activist-cum-crooner attracted wide listenership and groundswell commendation as it arguably became a “regional anthem” at parties in the “Treasure Base” – moniker for Rivers, and in other neighboring states.

The polyglot musician who recently revealed in news interview his decision to pursue a PhD; in addition to his M.Sc Acoustic from Freiburg University, Germany, highlighted glowing and graceful features of the “Garden City” which consistently makes it inviting, alluring, and endearing to residents and visitors.

He reeled out and eulogised some personalities who are originally “son of the soil” from the Rivers/Bayelsa sub-zone of the Niger Delta region. Nyesom Wike; Rotimi Amaechi; O.C.J. Okocha; Magnus Abe; Tonye Harry; Timi Alaibe; Oscar Igbokwe; Tonye Princewill; Dumo Lulu-Briggs; Tony Mc Pepple and few others were mentioned. Though he released other songs including “Ahamefuna,” “Obianuju,” “Dance For Me” none matched the lyrical depth, vocal strength, production expertise and marketing success of “Port Harcourt First Son.”

Over a decade after, there may be compelling reasons and growing need for the multi- talented artiste to do a follow-up. Given the vagaries of political and economic development in the oil-rich state that has thrown up new achievers, personalities, and stakeholders, it has become expedient for an encore to the hugely successful song. Realizing the natural flair of the musician for intellectual robustness, indepth research, and discoveries, one will not be surprised if he is in the studio already working towards that.

Indeed, when this happens, one name that will feature prominently is Rt. Hon. Kingsley Chinda, Leader of Opposition in Nigeria’s House of Representatives. In over two decades, the Ikwerre-born politician who came into public service as Rivers state Commissioner for Environment in the mid 2000s, has risen from being a state-wide personality to national prominence and country-wide relevance. The deep-thinking, intelligent and brilliant lawmaker who decades back was a foremost student union leader, has contributed immensely to the proper positioning and elevated status of Rivers in national discourse within and without the National Assembly.

Having acquitted himself creditably as superintendent of the state’s Environment Ministry, he was nominated, and subsequently elected as the representative of Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011. He thus became a member of the 7th Assembly of the House of Representatives.

The 7th House of Representatives, which ran from June 2011 to June 2015, stands-out as the golden years of Nigeria’s legislature in the Fourth Republic. The House, at plenary, committees’ sittings, and oversight functions truly merited it’s sobriquet as the “House of Nigerian People.” Members; particularly new and first-termers exuded rare character, capacity, competence, and confidence in the discharge of their responsibilities.

With no measure of undue influence and subtle guidance by presiding officers and the leadership, Members engaged in robust, informed, and elevated debates on every burning national issue. As a result of it’s vibrancy, passion, and commitment to national development, the House endeared itself to majority of Nigerians. Chinda, who was Deputy Chairman, Committee on Customs was one of the outstanding Members in the 7th House of Representatives, and the National Assembly in general. He and few others including TeeJay Yusuf; Aliyu Madaki; Bimbo Daramola; Nkem Abonta; Karibo Nadu; Aminu Suleiman; Ibrahim Shehu Gusau contributed largely to the success and positive ratings of the 7th House.

In recognition of this and more, the good people of Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency re-wrote history to show that “a prophet can have (and receive) honour in his homestead.” For the educated, industrious, and dynamic people of arguably the richest federal constituency, their son has tonnes of honour, integrity, and acceptability at home. To demonstrate this, a two-pronged event was organized to celebrate Chinda.

The ceremonies kicked off with a “special birthday service” at St. Martins Anglican Church, Elelewon, Port Harcourt. The second leg; “grand reception” held at another classy location in the capital city. Attendance at both events confirmed Chinda’s status as a crowd puller, loved by many; admirers and adversaries. While he is always celebrated by his loyalists, friends, and associates, his competitors and opponents cannot help but acknowledge the power of his mind, thought-process, unassailable elocution, commitment, determination, and patriotic zeal.

In over one decade as a federal parliamentarian, Chinda has unmistakably distinguished himself as one of the leading lights of Nigeria’s legislature, and a veritable vanguard for the country’s democratic development. He is a great mind who chooses to be simple, humble and easy going; erroneously interpreted as arrogance and stand-offish by some people.

Due to his spartan and secluded lifestyle, he looks withdrawn, on-my-own, and somewhat laid-back but beneath is a kind, gentle, tender-hearted and altruistic personality. Gifted with unusual calmness and quiet comportment, Chinda is imbued with uncommon empathetic principles anchored on sincerity, selflessness, contentment and love. His commitment and loyalty to true friendship and group interest is unequivocal, inspiring and challenging.

As a well-educated and properly nurtured lawmaker, he deplores his past (and present) experiences and exposures as a student activist, advocate and attorney to bear in his legislative duties, functions and responsibilities. At every forum; public or private, formal or informal he exudes brilliance, intelligence and discipline. He demonstrates top-level knowledge, profound understanding and enviable excellence on issues with masterful grace and magisterial composure. In few interactions with him, the writer was able to decipher he is a largely misunderstood personality who has unrestrained dedication to hard work, unapologetic diligence and exemplary stewardship.

At the 8th Assembly between June 2015 and June 2019, as Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Chinda demonstrated true leadership as he appropriately situated the committee’s relevance in the management and monitoring of national resources. For a committee that was feared and loathed by appointees and employees of the executive arm of government due to numerous instances of high-handedness and unsavory tendencies, Chinda changed the narratives.

During his leadership, he successfully re-directed and re-packaged the committee’s focus and responsibilities. Chinda and members of the committee enthroned the culture of proper, result-driven oversight of MDAs as enshrined in the House rule book. Without being confrontational, he ensured invited Heads of MDAs honoured invites, and complied with directives by updating their records in line with extant rules. Also, for the first time since the Fourth Republic, the committee succeeded in automating records of activities, actions, findings, and resolutions.

Cognisant and impressed with Chinda’s sterling performances in the parliament, constituency development, and national discourse which has greatly elevated the position of Rivers state in the National Assembly, the dual-event was organized as a mark of honour, recognition and endorsement for a worthy son of Obio/Akpor, and Rivers. It was also a veritable platform to further the constituents unflinching allegiance to a man whom they have invested their electoral franchise since 2011.

Little wonder the “talk of the city” event was colourful and glamorous; fitting for a star-performer. As a people’s man who has undying passion for humanity, people of different categories and status thronged the church and reception venue. Aside dignitaries, influential personalities, politicians, professionals and top-players in the private sector, the every day, normal and ordinary Nigerian across Port Harcourt were in attendance. The admixture of the high, medium and low further exemplifies and validates Chinda as a leveler; always at home with people.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon.Tajudeen Abass, PhD, led over three dozens Members to the reception. In his entourage were Ali Isa, Minority Whip; Aliyu Madaki, Deputy Minority Leader; Fred Agbedi, Chairman, Committee on FCT Area Councils; Abdulsamad Dasuki, Chairman, Committee on Shipping Services; Kwamoti Laori, Chairman, Committee on Co-operation & Integration in Africa; Amos Magaji, Chairman, Committee on Health Institutions; Salman Idris, Deputy Chairman, Committee on Agriculture Colleges & Institutions, and many others. Acknowledging and espousing the stabilizing role of Chinda in the parliament, Speaker Abbas declared that the self-effacing and intellectually sound lawmaker “remains one of the very best products in National Assembly, and ever since he steeped into the legislature he has been given Rivers state quality representation. He is indeed, an invaluable asset to Nigeria’s legislature.”

In their various comments on the celebrant, Ali Isa corroborated Speaker Abbas thus, “Chinda’s deep knowledge of the laws, spirit, and working of the legislature is second to none. His cool comportment and matured temperament no matter the pressure and timelines is simply amazing.” Aliyu Madaki averred that “Chinda as an indomitable lawmaker and altruistic personality are very obvious as he selflessly contributes towards making other lawmakers and colleagues function better.” For Kwamoti Laori, “he is not only forthright and open-minded but keeps to his word at all times.”

Personalities from Rivers state at the reception included Chief Nyesom Wike, FCTA Minister; Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule, Speaker, Rivers state House of Assembly; Chief Victor Giadom, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Vice Chairman, South South; Ambassador Desmond Akawor, Member, Revenue Mobilisation & Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC); Chief O.C.J. Okocha, SAN, former President, Nigerian Bar Association, and numerous others. Wike eulogised Chinda’s loyal, dependable, reliable and fidelity credentials, “he is a straight forward, sincere, and frank politician who is not only committed but ready, willing to sacrifice for the success of group interest and individuals good. His loyalty and firmness to the pursuit and realization of mutually agreed decisions stands him out.”

To add panache and glitz to the reception were some Members of the Rivers state caucus in the House of Representatives including Dumnamene Dekor, Chairman, Committee on Host Communities; Solomon Bob, Chairman, Committee on Capital Market & Institutions; Kelechi Nwogu, Deputy Chairman, Committee on Agriculture Production & Services; Felix Uche, Deputy Chairman, Committee on Information, Orientation, Ethics & Values, and others. Members of Rivers state caucus in the 8th and 9th Assembly also attended. On ground to offer solidarity and comradeship with Chinda were about 20 former Members of the House of Representatives; not from Rivers state. They included his friends and confidants such as Chukwuka Onyema; Rimamnde Shawulu; TeeJay Yusuf; Emma Ekong; Uche Onyeagocha; Muraina Ajibola. Barristers Chuma Chinye, Abdu Mahmud, and other friends were visibly present.

On the sidelines of the reception, some friends of the celebrant volunteered their thoughts about the quintessential lawmaker. According to Barrister Chuma Chinye, “Chinda is very knowledgeable and reels out educative and enlightened perspectives to any issue under focus.” Rt. Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, a former House Deputy Minority Leader describes him as “forthright, sincere, tolerant, and imbued with integrity and capacity for hard work.” For Rt. Hon. TeeJay Yusuf, former Chairman, Committee on Capital Market & Institutions, Chinda at all times speaks, “truth with robustness and profound candour.”

In similar vein, Rt. Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu, former Chairman, Committee on Army averred that, “he demonstrates conviction, clarity of purpose, and frank disposition on issues.” Rt. Hon. Emma Ekong, former Chairman, Committee on Local Content declared that on every assignment, “Chinda deplores character, competence and capacity, as well as dedication, diligence, and determination.”

In his brief, touching and inspiring vote of thanks, an obviously enthralled, enthused, and excited Rt. Hon. Kingsley Chinda who apparently charmed and captivated by the outpouring of love, good wishes and prayers confessed that he was “overwhelmed by the large turn out of people who decided to honour me on this occasion.” Confessing that he hardly celebrates birthdays, “but had no choice when my constituents and friends decided to mark this year’s with such big ceremonies.”

Grateful and appreciative for the continued support he has enjoyed from constituents, leaders, elders, friends, colleagues, and associates in his political odyssey, he promised to “re-dedicate my time and energies towards the general well being of not only my constituents but including Rivers state and Nigeria. Just as I have remained steadfast and passionate in improving the lives of people, I pledge to double and deepen my efforts and interventions in every way possible towards the individual and corporate development of our communities, state, and Nigeria.”

 

* BOLAJI AFOLABI, a Development Communication Specialist writes from Abuja

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Opinion

As we continue the wait for 5G services

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By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

Nikolai Gogol’s “The Inspector General “ told a story many years ago that resonates today.

Apart from painting a picture of mockery in his satirical rendition, it tells us about the frailty of humanity and its foibles despite the pretences.

Ben Jonson,s “ Volpone” brings the story home and giggles at its consequences as capsulated by the hunchback displaying greed and pretentious lifestyle in society.

But more instructive is Gogol,s “The Inspector General “ which depicts deception in its entirety.

In 1978,Nigerian playwright, a very big example of his generation, Femi Osofisan, published
“Who is Afraid of Solarin” adapted from Gogol’s “The Inspector General “ and brought the story home painting a lurid picture of the deception that goes on in government.

Osofisan never envisaged our present state of affairs but his picture of the future was clear for all to see as we experience today.

But was he a visionary, who could predict the things to come. Perhaps so.

Solarin as a public complaints commissioner in the old western state was revered by all and his name struck awe in society as he had his eyes on integrity and so like Gogol’s character, Solarin was a change agent.

But Ofcourse many people used his name, dropped it in order to create awe on society, hoodwink the people and make them accept “defeat as fate” to quote Osofisan.

What has happened to integrity in public service and how do we situate this in telecommunications services especially with regards to poor quality of service, drop calls and data fleecing yet no one seems to care and questions not being asked and no answers in that regard.

If we have managed to live with the drudgery of poor services, how do we begin the story of fifth generation (5G) telecommunications services which allegedly entered Nigeria nearly three years ago without drawing inference from the pieces of literature highlighted above?

The materials talk about life and everyday living. So are telecommunications services because they are integral parts of everyday living and when government decided to introduce 5G into the country,those familiar with its workings saw it as promises of life abundance.

It’s nearly 30 months since its launch but the noise and euphoria that welcomed it have died down, and the people have little or nothing to show for it except government which was the biggest beneficiary having collected $273.6m each from the three licenced operators and while we await the services ,the government, indeed everyone looks elsewhere for the much hyped 5G to take proper root.

If anything at all, there are pockets of services so far, offered by the three supposed operators for the services: MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications and Airtel Nigeria but as things stand today, it appears 5G was mere noise and hype as Nigerians await in their various corners for the much talked about 5G services that Karl Toriola, MTN Chief said will be a game changer.

Strangely too,no one is asking questions as to the existence or not of the 5G services.

Have subscribers become so complacent that they have accepted defeat as fate in the face of corporate docility?

Even the once vibrant pressure groups-Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON),Association of Licenced Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria ( ALTON) among others have lost their voices.

Are we now confined to accepting anything simply because we are afraid to face the consequences therefrom if we shout?

Everyone yearns for heaven but afraid of dying. But like Osofisan said somewhere, ”is this death so horrible that we all must compromise with injustice in order to live?”. The future is our judge.

While we agree that providing services is purely a business decision but are business people not in business in their own interests and that of society?

And no one is talking about the services yet nobody is worried or are they experiencing subdued worries until the services come or have they completely given up on the expectation of the services?

On June 19, 2023, the last of the three to acquire the 5G licence, Airtel, kicked off its fifth generation network rollout in four locations, Lagos, Ogun, Rivers and Abuja, and the firm, is targeting coverage of the entire country by the end of the current financial year.

Unsuspecting Nigerians who joined in the excitement of the alleged entry of 5G services are now unsure of their expectations.

Licences were awarded on December 21, 2021 to MTN Nigeria and a little known Mafab Communications. They had a roll out timeline of August 2022 but the regulator granted an extension of five months to Mafab Communications to get ready. Thus the regulator changed the rules in between the game thus sending the first signal that all was not well. There have been several red flags.

MTN tried to weather the storm despite the challenges (even when it will not admit it openly) and “launched” a semblance of 5G services in parts of Nigeria. But that is where the excitement stops. Airtel, a late arrival shows some promises as we wait.

And so, the hype built around 5G has left everyone including the operators and regulators speechless as there is very little tangible evidence of availability of services so far. We have now accepted our fate as the wait goes on.

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) data show that 5G subscriptions in the country increased to 2.3 million in December 2023.

This, however, represents an insignificant 1.04% of the country’s total active subscriptions for telephone services, which stood at 224.7 million at the end of 2023.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Mobile Network Coverage facts and figures 2023 says “Since commercial deployment began in 2019, 5G coverage has increased to reach 40 per cent of the world population in 2023.

Distribution, however, remains very uneven. While 89 per cent of the population in high-income countries is covered by a 5G network, coverage remains limited in low-income countries. Europe boasts the most extensive 5G coverage, with 68 per cent of the population covered, followed by the Americas region (59 per cent) and the Asia-Pacific region (42 per cent). Coverage reaches 12 per cent of the population in the Arab States region and less than 10 per cent in the CIS region (8 per cent) and Africa region (6 per cent).

Ninety per cent of the world population is covered by 4G, and where 5G is not available, this remains a very good alternative. However, 55 per cent of people without access to 4G live in low-income countries. Whereas 95 per cent of the population in high-income and middle-income countries is covered by 4G or above, the proportion drops to 39 per cent in low-income countries, where 3G remains the dominant technology, and often the only technology available to connect to the Internet.”

The overall pace of 5G growth in the country remains sluggish, underscoring the complexities associated with transitioning to next-generation networks.

However, the data showed that 2G subscriptions continued to dominate, representing 57.78 per cent of connections in January 2024.

The ITU recently revealed that Africa maintained the lowest 5G coverage rate globally, standing at only 6 per cent as of December 2023.

It attributed the low 5G coverage rate on the continent to the ongoing significance of older mobile technologies, particularly 2G and 3G networks.

The ITU report highlighted the persistent reliance on 2G and 3G networks in many African countries, including Nigeria, where those technologies offer a cost-effective means of delivering essential mobile services, especially in regions lacking access to 4G and 5G networks.

In 2022, around one tenth of all connections worldwide used 5G technology, with this share set to surpass one half by the end of the decade. However, regional disparity is expected to persist, with the availability of 5G infrastructure, high costs imposed by network operators, and the availability of 5G handsets continuing to impact consumer uptake.

The North America, Developed Asia Pacific, and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regions are set to have surpassed 90 percent adoption by 2030, while adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to remain below 20 percent.

However, it has been suggested that 5G could play a key role in bridging the digital divide in the form of fixed wireless access (FWA).

5G FWA services use 5G networks to deliver high speed broadband internet in regions without fixed broadband infrastructure. As of 2023, almost a third of service providers in the Middle East and Africa offered a 5G FWA service.

The Global System Mobile Association (GSMA) says by 2025, 5G networks are likely to cover one-third of the world’s population. The impact on the mobile industry and its customers will be profound.

5G is more than a new generation of technologies; it denotes a new era in which connectivity will become increasingly fluid and flexible.

5G Networks will adapt to applications and performance will be tailored precisely to the needs of the user.

Working closely with the mobile operators pioneering 5G, the GSMA is engaging with governments, vertical industries including automotive, financial services, healthcare providers, transport operators, utilities and other industry sectors to develop business cases for 5G.

5G remains an exciting new technology that consumers and service providers are bracing up for.

5G statistics reveal projected volume growth for 5G smartphones as well as for revenue for 5G chipsets. Leading original equipment manufacturers are also beefing up 5G patents in a bid to be first in the 5G wars.

There are currently hundreds of millions of 5G global subscriptions. Subscriptions are forecast to reach three billion by 2025. (5G Americas and Omdia, 2021)

As of April 2021, there were 683 total 5G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments made worldwide. (5G Americas and Omdia, 2021)

There are currently 135 5G networks around the world that comply with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards. (5G Americas, 2020)

5G smartphone shipments comprised 40% of global volume by 2021. This is expected to grow to 69% in 2025. (IDC, 2021)

In 2021, there were 89.5 million 5G smartphone units shipped to the United States. 5G smartphone shipments will reach 153.3 million units in 2025, at a CAGR of 35.6%.

Consumer electronics and automotive applications are forecast to both have a 21.7% share of the 5G infrastructure by 2025. Meanwhile, industrial apps will have a 20.1% share while energy and utilities will have a 15.7% share. (Statista, 2020)

The 5G chipset market reached $3.55 billion in 2021 and $22.86 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 41%. (Statista, The Insight Partners)

Samsung has a 74% market share of the 5G smartphone market in the US. This is followed by LG at 15% and OnePlus at 11%.

Huawei has a 15.39% share of 5G families with patents. Huawei is followed by Qualcomm (11.24%), ZTE (9.81%), and Samsung (6.7%).

Data presented by Bankr indicates that the 5G technology global coverage will grow by 253.84% in the next five years. By 2025, about 53% of the global population at 4.14 billion will have access to the technology.

Few regions are driving 5G technology uptake
In 2021, the network coverage reached an estimated 1.95 billion people representing about 25% of the global population. In the last two years, the network access progressed to 32% of the global population at 2.5 billion.

In 2023, 5G network reached about 39% of the global population at 3.05 billion people. By 2024, an estimated 46% of the global population at 3.6 billion will be using the network.

According to the research report: “The over one billion access to 5G coverage in 2020 is a culmination of a joint clear consensus on the 5G network by major players in recent years. The coverage is significant however, it is being driven by a select few regions in Asia, the US, and Europe.

Other regions are still building the infrastructure to accommodate the technology. Notably, Asia is a current leader in 5G after undergoing a rapid migration in mobile broadband networks and smartphones setting the perfect ground for 5G adoption.”

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Opinion

The Police And Akpabio’s Sermon On The Mount

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By Hon Eseme Eyiboh

84-year-old renowned Belgian painter and writer, Erik Pervernagie, says: “People die from lack of shared empathy and affinity. By establishing social connectedness, we give hope a chance and the other can become heaven (“Le ciel c’est l’autre”).

No institution has been so disparaged and stigmatised as the Nigeria Police. It is treated with so much contempt and neither appreciated nor celebrated. Rather, anything bad or despicable is attributed to the police. An average policeman is held in utmost and never enjoys any empathy or affinity from most Nigerians. Although the police are the friend of the people, the mutual reciprocity from the people is seemingly non-existent. The compensation is abysmal while the motivation is infinitesimal.

That is why in its years of existence, no one has remembered to honour its men and officers who have excelled in their professional outings until the coming of IGP Olukayode Egbetokun. Hence, the maiden edition of the Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations Ceremony held in Abuja last Monday was long overdue and an emotion-laden event. This was the first time the Nigeria Police celebrated itself by recognising gallantry, rewarding excellence and professionalism, thereby boosting the morale of officers and men, which has over the decades been at an all-time low.

By this maiden award, the present Inspector General of Police has jump-started a new Nigeria Police Force whose personnel are ethically compliant, professionally focused, and stable with a strong reward culture and post-service incentives. The IGP has also, through this event, instituted a reward system and reputation management process that will ultimately change the general perception our people hold about the Nigeria Police. Going forward, the men and officers of the force will be motivated and energised to give their all in spite of the negative reception from the public and compete to be recognised and honoured.

Putting the icing on the cake was the effervescent President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, who stole the show. It was, however, devoid of an elaborate sense of humour or trademark jokes nor hilarious laughter. It was the underpin of the inspirational remarks by the number one Legislator in Nigeria.

In a delivery reminiscent of the oratory of a Barrack Obama, Luther King, William Churchill or Nelson Mandela, Akpabio’s speech evinced the feelings of empathy and affinity. Call it Sermon on the Mount, and you will be damn right! Because he gave the Nigeria Police Force a thump-up for the timely, strategic, and innovative strategies it has adopted in the cutting-edge reputation management of the organisation and the morale-boosting initiative adopted to foster professionalism, innovations, competition, and courage amongst its workforce.

The admonition of Senator Akpabio falls within the prism of constructive stakeholders’ engagement and an urgent demand to integrate the force into a citizen-police cubicle. Drawing allusions from the Holy Books (the Bible and Koran) to drive home his message, Akpabio said, “I see hope in today’s event. The story is told of how Prophet Elijah (known in the Koran as Ilyās), after three and a half years of drought, asked his attendant to go and look for a rain cloud. After seven attempts, the assistant came back and told him that he had seen a small cloud, the size of a man’s hand. Not minding the size of the cloud, Elijah declared that a torrential downpour was impending”.

Continuing, the Senate President was eclectic: “In this country we have had a deficit of heroes. Not because Nigerians are not heroic but because we do not celebrate our heroes. Yet heroes play a vital role in society through the provision of inspiration, motivation, hope and serving as representations of values and character. Celebrating heroes could bring the much-needed change we need in the fabric of our society and make our country a better place.

“So today, I can see in this award ceremony a small rain cloud, the size of the hand of a man. But I declare, like Elijah, that out of this event shall come a mighty downpour of recognition of heroes and heroines in all sectors of the public service, law enforcement and allied service”.

Delving into the literary world, Akpabio navigated the thoughts of one America’s finest naturalist, essayist, poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. He said, “It is apt that the police should set the ball rolling for us in this hero’s recognition affair. Many have sought to hang the police to dry for all our many vices. But the truth of the matter is that the police are all members of our society. Down the ages the popular philosophical thinking was that man could not be better than the society because the society makes the man, socialises man, and orients him with a sense of right and wrong. But Henry David Thoreau came with a counter narrative that man can surpass societal limitations, and rise above societal norms and expectations”.

According to Akpabio, “This is what the police are trying to do with this event under the current leadership. This leadership understands that the role of the police in a democracy cannot be overstated. They are the custodians of law and order, and they ensure the safety and security of the citizens.“

In a democratic society, it is imperative that the police uphold the highest ethical standards in carrying out their duties. They are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the rights and liberties of the people, while maintaining law and order.

“Once again, I commend the police for this maiden effort in organising this awards ceremony. It is a testament to IGP Egbetokun’s commitment to giving honour to whom it is due. By recognising the gallant, selfless, and patriotic contributions of individual officers, will not only motivate them for higher performance but also reinforce the new policing agenda of the force. This agenda focuses on internal ethical regeneration, restoration of professional standards, and the enhancement of the anti-corruption drive”.

He left some words of admonition: “However, let us not ignore the challenges faced by the police in Nigeria. The ever-evolving landscape of crime and the increasing sophistication of criminal gangs pose significant obstacles. More so, as we honour the good officers, let us weed out the bad ones because a chain is as strong as its weakest link. We must address these issues and work together to find solutions. The police need the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, to overcome these challenges and build a stronger and more effective police force.

“I congratulate the awardees who have excelled in their respective fields of policing. Their dedication, bravery, and integrity have set them apart and made them deserving of this recognition. I commend every one of them for their outstanding performance and commitment to the service of our nation. I urge them to remember that to whom much is given, much is expected.“

As the leader of the National Assembly, I pledge our full cooperation and support for the better policing of Nigeria. We recognize the importance of a well-equipped and motivated police force in ensuring the security and well-being of our citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to provide the necessary legislative framework and resources to enable the police to carry out their duties effectively”.

This is what our institutions need now, this is the quality Nigeria is looking for and the leaders that deserve to be at the helm of affairs. Senator Akpabio was generous in the act and in the heart of his personal support to the families of the posthumous awardees.

Hon Eseme Eyiboh is the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity and the official Spokesperson to the President of the Senate.

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