The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, awarded Value-Added Service contracts to himself, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, among others.
SaharaReporters learnt that others who benefited from the dubious contracts include the late Isa Funtua, a long-time political associate of President Muhammadu Buhari.
An investigation by SaharaReporters showed further that Dare awarded the contracts when he was the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Dare, a former spokesman for Tinubu, was appointed by Buhari as the South-West executive commissioner of the NCC in 2016.
He was however replaced with Adeleke Moronfolu Adewolu in 2019 as the President named him Minister of Sports and Youth Development.
Value-Added Service (VAS) is a term used in telecommunications to describe non-core features, which traditionally are non-voice functions such as video, data and so on.
Others awarded the multi-billion naira contracts by Dare included Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC; Naomi Adenuga; Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.
A top source said, “The current Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare single-handedly gave some corrupt Nigerians the NCC licenses when he was the Executive Commissioner.
“He gave himself a slot and also gave Naomi Adenuga for Globacom. He gave Bola Tinubu a slot and also Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC a slot. He also gave Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.”
Ararume was on Sunday appointed Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) after Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, directed the incorporation of the company.
According to the top source, others are “Isa Funtua (who died in July 2020), Abdurahman Ado Musa and his brother, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
“They were all awarded the Value-Added Service contracts for the NCC. This includes the use of USSD code; they generate at least N25 billion per month from that. The use of USSD code brings a lot of money,” the source added.
Abdulrahman Ado is a director with telecom operator, 9mobile.
Funtua was a Federal Minister in the Second Nigerian Republic. After leaving the government job, he went into business and was a personal friend and close associate of Buhari. Until his death, he was known to be very influential in Buhari’s administration.
USSD means Unstructured Supplementary Service Data which allows people without smartphones or data or internet connection to use mobile banking through the use of codes, but at a charge.
“Through the Value Added Service, they generate at least N25 billion naira per month. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami is also badly involved. They are very close to Malami and (Isa) Pantami as well.”
Pantami is the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. Before then, he was the Director-General and CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) between September 2016 and August 2019.
Also called Sheikh Pantami, the minister’s past call to Jihad and unalloyed support for murderous groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda portray him as a dyed-in-the-wool Islamic fundamentalist.
Sharing the details of how the contracts were dubiously awarded, another source said, “The telecommunications companies were taking 90%, leaving the content provider with 10%. Sunday Dare then promised to give contracts to five companies and about 400 companies put in their bids with a deposit of N500,000 each. Upon qualifying, you will remit another N9.5 million to them.
“The goal was to water down the profit of the Telcos. Sunday Dare singlehandedly gave Ado, himself and seven others the contract. No governor is richer than any executive in NCC.”