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Chinese loans: $400m project abandoned after completion

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The National Public Security Communication System project for which Nigeria took a $399.5million from China and has paid $76.83million as part of the principal as well as $84.92million interest has been abandoned.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari had, during the 2020 Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, said that the project had been revived, Nigerian Tribune findings show that the project has since been abandoned.

The President, in  the 59th paragraph of the Democracy Day speech, had said, “Amongst others, Government has expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the federation, resuscitated the National Public Security Communication System and  commenced the implementation of the Community Policing Strategy.”

Nigeria had, in 2010, taken the $399.5million loan to finance the National Public Security Communication System project with the aim of improving the security architecture of the country.

The loan, for which the outstanding is $322.67million, is supposed to be fully repaid by  2030, failing which the China-Exim Bank would take over the facility. Experts are agreed that had the project been activated after completion, Nigeria could have stemmed the rising tide of crime and criminality in different parts of the country.

Nigeria has been at the mercy of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers who have repeatedly unleashed mayhem on many arts of the country. Just a few days back, the convoy of Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, was attacked by suspected militants. In June 2019, suspected kidnappers also attacked the convoy of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo  State governor.

However, it was hide and seek for the agencies directly linked with the National Public Security Communication System project on Tuesday as the Nigerian Tribune sought to get their views on the President’s comment that the project had been revived.

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Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) spokesperson, Adamu Idris, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune on  Tuesday, said the agency did not know anything about the project.

His words,

“We were brought in after the project had been completed, we were not brought in at the design stage. We were supposed to run it on behalf of the government but it was not successfully executed. So, we are no longer involved.”

When asked to confirm the resuscitation of the project as said by the President, he said he did not know the current status of the project because his agency was no longer involved.

He then referred our correspondent to either the Ministry of Interior or the Police Affairs Ministry for further clarifications. The Ministry of Interior’s spokesperson, Mohammed Manga, declined comments because “I am not in the presidency, so I cannot make a comment about what the president said.”

He also declined to speak on the status of the project, saying “It is not domiciled in our ministry.” Seyi Odutayo, the  Police Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, promised to get back to our correspondent after communicating with the relevant department but had yet to do so at the time of filing this report.

However, during a 2016 investigation by an Ad Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the award of CCTV cameras in Abuja and Lagos, a former NigComSat MD, Mr Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, had said that the project was fully completed by the contractor, ZTE Nigeria Limited, but that the Federal Government failed to operate and maintain it.

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According to Ahmed-Rufai,

“We had a team of 25 engineers that went to every location to verify different stages of the project. We issued Acceptance Certificates after which payments were made to the contractor. There were milestones that were all carefully and professionally observed by the project implementation team.

“As the Project Consultant, I stand by every payment that was made and every decision taken on the project. The project was completed, tested and every component was working.

“It is erroneous for anyone to call the project a CCTV  project because the Video Surveillance System (VSS) is even less than 8 per cent of the project. There were five components and they were all completed.”

He added that while the project was fully completed, the Federal Government had failed to activate it, likening the situation to having a brand new car but failing to fuel it.

“They had to power down the backbone for the communication system because government was not forthcoming in maintaining and operating the system. It is a complete communication system, there were special phones for security agencies which some people decided to lock up somewhere.

“There were emergency communication vehicles, they were all delivered. People were trained, from the police and other agencies but somehow some people decided not to operate the system. Those cameras depend on a backbone that has over 670 base stations. Those BTS have to be powered for the cameras to work,” he said.

Similarly, ZTE MD, Mr. Hao Fuqiang, in his response to the House of Representatives’ 2016 investigation, said, “We have consistently maintained that the project was fully completed and final tests completed. The Acceptance Certificates are available for scrutiny.”

According to the ZTE MD, the project was not just about CCTV as it had five components. The Global Open Trunking Architecture (GoTa) Sub-system, which is the dominant component of the system, is a CDMA-based voice and data telecommunications system with national coverage. It operates through two Mobile Switch Centres (MSC) with one each in Lagos and Abuja; 12 Base Station Controllers (BSC), 675 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and 21 Microwave repeaters.

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The Gota system supports the deployment of 1.5 million subscriber lines. The second component is the Video surveillance Subsystem. The system comprises of 2000 surveillance cameras with 1,000 each installed in Abuja and  Lagos respectively.

The subsystem also makes use of solar solutions because of the electricity challenges in the country. The Video  Conferencing subsystem provides a platform for real-time video conferencing for the Nigeria Police Force across all commands and the Force Headquarters.

The E-policing subsystem is meant to facilitate the deployment of E-policing databases, while the Coalition Emergency  Response subsystem is a platform for national emergency communication using the shortcode of 911 for emergency and /distress calls and 912 for anonymous security information. It also empowers the security agencies to carry out a coordinated response.

The National Public Security Communication System project was initiated during the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua to curb insecurity in Abuja and Lagos as well as their environs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigerian Tribune





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