Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
The first national Telecommunications Subscribers Summit organised recently by the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), has honoured the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo with a Platinum award.
He was recognised for his role as President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, when he created the enabling environment for the smooth take-off of Global System for mobile telecoms(GSM) operations in the country after the auctioning in 2001.
The award, which was presented by the National President of NATCOMS, Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, was received by a deputy director in the Ministry of Communications Technology, Mrs. N.O. Ogujiofor, on behalf of Obasanjo.
Presenting a paper at the event, Director-General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mrs. Ify Umenyi, who was represented by Mr. Abiodun Obimuyiwa, said the level of consumerism in Nigeria was gradually increasing as more consumers now demand that their rights be respected.
She called on telecoms service providers and other service providers to respect the rights of consumers at all times.
In his welcome address, Ogunbanjo highlighted the challenges of telecoms subscribers and called on telecoms operators and the consumer protection agencies to use the opportunity presented by the summit, to address the challenges.
Telecoms subscribers, who attended the summit, had the opportunity to ask telecoms operators, the regulator and government agencies responsible for the protection of consumer rights in the country, questions bothering on poor service quality, shabby treatments received while engaging customer care lines, and indiscriminate tariff charges across networks.
Subscribers, who spoke from different perspectives, frowned at the services of network providers in several areas of their operations, and equally commended some operators in other areas of their operations.
They complained of difficulties encountered whenever they tried reaching out to MTN customer care line, but commended Airtel for the ease of getting across to its customer care line, with just few dials. However, MTN was commended for its varieties of promos and bonuses. The network provided was condemned for restricting its bonus airtime to only MTN to MTN calls.
Etisalat was commended for its innovative value added services, but received knocks for its inability to spread to remote parts of the country.
Globacom was hailed for the introduction of per second billing, but got faulted for disparity in its tariff plans.
In all, consumers blamed operators for poor service quality, which they said, was already affecting business in the country. They called on operators to come up with lasting solution to the continuous drop in service quality across networks.
Responding to consumers’ reactions, Director, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Tony Ojobo, said he was pleased with the various reactions that emanated from the summit, which he said was a proof that Nigerians know their rights as consumers.
Ojobo, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, called on telecoms service providers to address the issues raised by subscribers.
Responding to consumers’ complaints, General Manager, Regulatory Affairs for MTN, Mrs. Oyeronke Oyetunde , said MTN invested heavily in network expansion and that the company was still investing, in order to provide best service quality to consumers.
She explained that MTN had reduced tariffs through its various value added services that are on-going. Explaining some of the challenges of MTN, Oyetunde said “MTN suffers over 70 fibre cuts every month, which she said, affects smooth network operations.”
Representative of Airtel, Mr. Ademola Folarin, said the operator spends over N400 million on its customer care monthly, and promised that it would continue to invest in customer care in order to provide the best of service. Similarly, Globacom and Etisalat pledged to improve on their service offerings to customers.