The federal government plans to revive the $470 million National Public Security Communication System, including the vandalised Abuja and Lagos Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV), the Nigeria Communication Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT), has said in Abuja.
Musa Otaru, Head of Telecommunication Service, NIGCOMSAT, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the federal government was making effort to revive the communication system in view of its security significance.
Contract for the project was awarded in 2010 to a Chinese firm, ZTE Nigeria Limited, to provide audio, video and data information for use by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies.
The contract provided for installation of five components, including the video surveillance system and comprehensive, reliable, modern and robust public security communication technology.
Mr Otaru said that efforts were being made by the government to have other means of bringing the project to completion.
“There is a new effort by the government to bring up the network and it is still working on that for the use of the system.
“Since this government came in, it has called all the stakeholders and we are expecting good result very soon.
“The project was conceived by the federal government to capacitate the ability of the Nigeria security agencies to fight insurgency or rising insecurity,’’ he said.
It was conceived by the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2008 during a visit to China and by August 2010, the contract was signed for the deployment of NPSCS.
According to Mr Otaru, the project is owned by the Ministry of Police Affairs and it cuts across the 36 states and FCT, while NIGCOMSAT is a consultant to the implementation.
“When you look at the implementation, it is actually monitored by the Project Management Team (PMT) of which NIGCOMSAT is a member.
“Substantially, we can say that the project is about 90 or 95 per cent completed. It is not totally completed, so we still have some issues,’’ he said.
He explained that the role of NIGCOMSAT was just to provide technical consultation to the implementation, recalling that the organisation was brought in at the implementation stage of the project.
“And at the end of day, we were also mandated to do a post implementation to operate the project.
“In the implementation, I could see that somebody, say NIGCOMSAT engineers, has certified the project, I don’t think so.
“We cannot say it is completed but it is substantially completed about 90-95 per cent completed across all note.
“The level which the project has reached now can make it operational. So we have done the project and it is at the advanced conclusion of the project.
“The challenges faced by the project is that of takeoff fund which is lacking. That is why the operation was stopped,’’ Mr Otaru said.
He said the project had been misunderstood by the public to mean CCTV because it is the easily visible component of the project.
According to him, the CCTV, which is the Video Surveillance Subsystem, was less than 15 per cent of the entire project.
“The project has five components: the GOTA, which is Global Operating Network Architecture; the Video Surveillance Subsystem (VSS); the Video Conferences System; E-Policing Subsystem and the Emergency Collation Response Subsystem.
“In brief, the system is a database that consists of voice, data and video to provide a reliable, secured and robust platform for security agencies so that they can combat rising criminality attempts.
“If you go out, you will see cameras, so everybody thought it’s all about CCTV. We have about 696 Base Transmission Stations (BTS) so it is actually more than CCTV,’’ the official said.
Mr Otaru said the federal government was supposed to take it over from the Chinese contractors as “it is one of the important stakeholders because it is the contractor that deployed the work to us’’.
“So the agreement is that once the network is deployed, it will hand over, and so what we would have taken over from them is just the passive component of the network.
“The preliminary acceptance test was conducted in December 2012. So as required by the global practice, we ran the network between January and June 2013.
That was “before we had a major challenge of fund that made the network to stop. The cost of running the network is quite enormous and it was due to paucity of funds that we shut down.
“Even after June 2013, the network was still in part running. It was not shut down nationwide; part of it was still running, especially in Abuja and Lagos.
“Up till the early part of 2014 before the switch was finally shut down in September 2014.
“The operation was ongoing until it was somehow gradually brought to a halt because of paucity of fund and so many challenges faced.
“The network has been idle for so long which has exposed it to vandalism as most of the components of the network had been seriously vandalised.
“When we were doing the preliminary second test, it was during the peak of the insurgency in Borno and Adamawa.
“Because of all these and the idleness of the network, a lot of vandalism had taken place,’’ he said.
Inquiries by NAN over the project, however, showed that government had lost billions of naira due to vandalism of its major components as virtually all its infrastructure had been removed or destroyed by motorists through accidents.
The then Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, at a sitting of an Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives on the project, had said it was fully completed by ZTE but the federal government failed to operate and maintain it.
He told the committee that the organisation’s team of 25 engineers visited all the locations to verify different stages of the project and issued Acceptance Certificate after which payments were made.
Further inquiries on the current state of the project showed that the police force had yet to take it over while the FCT authorities maintained that they had no role in the contract, installation and concept of the project.