NCC Fine: Should We Treat The “Big Boy” Softly? By Mohammed Karamba
About two weeks ago, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced that it has fined it’s biggest mobile telecommunications operator a sum of around $5bn for flouting the dateline for deactivating all unregistered lines. This is probably one of the biggest fines in the history of the telecommunications industry. It claimed that the reason for such huge fine is because it has to do with national security. It has been reported that talks are ongoing between Nigerian and South-African government. Some reports claim that MTN wants an 80% reduction. A number of Nigerians think MTN has always gotten the better side of every deal. Now that there is a new sheriff in town, should we give them the soft deal?
I have nothing personal against MTN. But I can remember a couple of months back during the xenophobic attacks in South-Africa, some Nigerians where calling for the closure of all South-African businesses. MTN boldly came out to say that, if it is to close business in Nigeria, about 6000 Nigerians will lose their jobs. Was that a threat? Perhaps it has grown into that untouchable “bigboy” who always gets what he wants.
Secondly, this decision whether to be soft on MTN is probably the biggest stand President Buhari will take (since assuming office) in upholding the rule of law just like he swore to. I am sure the NCC didn’t just get that figure out of nowhere; if at all MTN is found guilty. Yes there should be a good atmosphere for foreign investments. But that doesn’t mean we should compromise our laws. Especially when it has to do with issues national security at this crucial moment. I am sure the world and all foreign investments in Nigeria are watching to see which decision we will make so they know the kind of Nigeria they are dealing with now.
Also, the problem with compromising is that, it is mostly a chain. Once you do, others will use that to blackmail you into making yet another compromise until the law is forgotten. This is an issue that has eaten up the integrity of a lot of people. We can’t afford to compromise again.
This is not an issue concerning MTN alone. Be it a domestic or foreign company, there are quite a number of “bigboys” in Nigeria. They offer substandard services or products and yet our governments overlook that. It is unfortunate that countries around us like Niger, Cameroun, Benin Republic etc get better standard of product and services than Nigeria. I think this MTN issue should be a turning point. Our government should ensure that we get the optimum standard of products and services.
Finally, I urge President Buhari to please look into this matter with caution and consider the impact this decision will have to the world’s perception of our stand on enforcing the rule of law. Nigeria cannot continue to be a “dump-site”. We the Nigerian citizens are equal to every world citizen. We deserve to be treated right. Anyone who flouts our rule should get the stick. Thank God I have a president who is known for his no-nonsense attitude. God bless Nigeria