By Emma Okonji
Subscribers to telecommunications services across networks have commended the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for the role it played in the process that led to the reduction of the MTN fine from N1.04 trillion to N330 billion.
The National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), who gave the commendation through its National President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, also faulted the federal government for its inability to find a lasting solution to the challenge, since the fine was imposed on MTN, eight months ago. The delay in resolving the issue, followed the federal government insistence that MTN must pay the full value of the fine.
The telecom subscribers however said the role of NCC in reducing the fine, was an indication that it has a human face in regulating the telecoms industry, which they said, was necessary for any business environment that is striving to grow, especially in an economy that has suddenly become tough to do successful business like the Nigerian economy.
The NCC, at the weekend, announced that it has reduced the MTN fine from N1.04 trillion to N330 billion, with a condition that MTN pays the reduced fine within a space of three years.
According to the NCC, the reduced amount of N330 billion, would include the initial payment of N50 billion earlier made by MTN to the government.
MTN said the balance of N280 billion would be made in six tranches within a period of three years. By the terms of agreement, MTN will pay N30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10, 2016.
Other dates of payments include: March 31, 2017, (N30 billion); March 31, 2018, (N55 billion); December 31, 2018, (N55 billion); March 31, 2019, (N55 billion) and the balance will be in May 31, 2019, (N55 billion.)
Although the House Committee on Communication is insisting that MTN pays the full value of N1.04 trillion, and has summoned the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu to appear before it today (Monday), to explain their roles in the reduction of the fine, Ogunbanjo has hailed the decision of NCC to reduce the fine, explaining it will encourage MTN to remain in the business of providing telecoms services to its over 60 million subscribers.
It is a good thing that the fine was reduced to a level that MTN could pay, because compelling MTN to pay N1.04 trillion as fine would have grounded the business of MTN and would have also led to massive job loss in the country, thereby adding to the unemployment situation of the country.
“I am not satisfied with the way the federal government handled the matter, making it to prolong unnecessarily, but I am happy that NCC has finally reduced the fine, which I think is in the best interest of the country,” Ogunbanjo said.
Speaking on the lesson learnt so far, Ogunganjo said MTN must have learnt its lesson to always obey constituted authority. “MTN should put aside impunity, even if it is the biggest network in the country and obey rules and regulations of the telecoms industry regulator. I am sure they must have learnt their lessons, hence it had continued to seek amicable negotiations with the NCC and the federal government,” Ogunbanjo said.