The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on Sunday explained why the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) was asked to vacate its office complex in the Mbora District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), named Digital Economy Complex.
It also denied claims by the Director General of the NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa that staff of the agency were kicked out of the complex by security operatives on the order of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.
Pantami and Dabiri-Erewa had been engaged in a war of words over a recent interview with the NIDCOM DG had with SaharaReporters, where she alleged that the minister ordered security operatives to send members of staff of NIDCOM packing from the NCC complex.
Though Pantami denied the allegation, Dabiri-Erewa fired back with a video in a tweet, accusing the minister of not been truthful and declaring that his disdain for women was legendary.
The NCC, owners of the office complex however released a statement on Sunday, explaining that NIDCOM was asked to vacate the building while the formal opening of the office complex by President Muhammadu Buhari was being planned for, in line with demands for the security of the President and the event.
It further stated that the Diaspora Commission was also asked to leave because some departments of the NCC had to move to the new building because of congestion at the NCC headquarters.
The statement, issued by NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been drawn to a video making the rounds on social media alleging that the Nigeria Diaspora Commission was ignominiously thrown out of the NCC building. It is therefore important that the general public is acquiesced with what really transpired with regard to the incident leading to the evacuation of the Diaspora Commission from the NCC building.
“Following the completion of the NCC building at Mbora, Abuja designated as NCC Annex and the acute shortage of accommodation space for the staff of the Commission in the NCC Head Office at Maitama, Abuja, the Board of the Commission directed the decongestion of the Head Office Building.
“Some of the Departments of the NCC had started moving to the new Office Complex of Five (5) Floors when discussions were held between the NCC and the Diaspora Commission to enable the Diaspora Commission also utilize any free Offices within the Complex. The fifth floor allocated to them had to be used to accommodate other Departments from the NCC Headquarters to ease the congestion. NCC’s offer to house the Nigeria Diaspora Commission was predicated on the long held position of the NCC that agencies of Government will achieve more through strategic collaboration, partnership, synergy and sharing to the extent allowed by relevant laws.
“During this period, the NCC secured approval for the Commissioning of the Office Complex by the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari and the launching of four important projects of the NCC and the renamed Ministry of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMC&DE):
“Launching and unveiling of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025;
“Commissioning of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex;
“Launching of the Emergency Communications Centre and Toll-Free number 112; and
“Flag off of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training
“These important projects were a culmination of extensive collaboration between NCC and the other Parastatals of the FMC&DE and fittingly the Complex was renamed the COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY COMPLEX in tandem with the new drive of the Federal Government towards a digital economy.
“The NCC has not withdrawn the offer but had hiccups arising from the preparation for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Communications and Digital Economy Complex and launch other projects relating to the mandate of government. The Board and Management of the NCC took a decision to ensure that every activity in the building was in line with the Federal Government’s digital agenda.
“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the Diaspora Commission, the Director General, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa had not visited the Complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the Commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.
“As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the Complex. Therefore the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex.
“At this time, only NCC Staff were accredited to have access within this premises as required by the security officials. All the properties belonging to the Diaspora Commission are safely warehoused in some of the Offices in the Complex. This is contrary to the position of the Director General of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa that the removal of her Commission from the building was punitive. This is not the correct position and we agree with her that there are always challenges in every human activity but the unforeseen challenges that arose in this case are not different but require understanding of all concerned.”