Vanguard (Lagos)

21 January 2013

Nigeria: Operators Vow to Resist Unfair Sanction From NCC

TELECOM operators in the country have vowed to resist any unfair sanction from the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

The operators were speaking against the backdrop of speculations that the Commission was spoiling for war against them over consistent poor telecom services in recent times.

NCC's Director Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, had declared during the yuletide period that the operators may be sanctioned this quarter over poor services if the key performance indicators which the commission put in place, indicted them.

But in a swift reaction, yesterday, Chairman of the Association of Licenced Telecom Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, said the operators would employ legal means to resist any penalty from the regulator which did not take into accounts the spate of attacks and vandalisation the operators have suffered.

According to Adebayo, from wilful damages to vandalisation, flood and bomb attacks, the operators have been at the receiving end and on each occasion, they would be left to leak their wounds.

Adebayo said the damages on the operators' facilities could not immediately be quantified but revealed that it ran into hundreds of millions of dollars. He noted that instead of sanctions, this was the time for the government to rally support for the operators to ensure they continue to provide services for the generality of Nigerians.

Adebayo who spoke exclusively to Vanguard said: "key performance indicators or not, I don't think that the government would be fair to talk about sanctions now. Everybody is aware of the problems we have been facing, including the recent bomb attacks on our facilities. I think that the government should even be talking of giving us some form of compensation to help us recoup. We are not talking of cash compensation, rather some form of tax or import waiver to enable us import back some of these facilities which actually run into several hundreds of million dollars to replace.

"But in any case, we will employ every legal means to resist any penalty we deem as been unfair to us by the government. You could remember that the government rolled out some form of relief for the flood victims but as we speak, no operator was considered a beneficiary, irrespective of the fact that our losses at the flood were phenomenal."

Ojobo had said that the regulator would not fold its arms and watch millions of Nigerians who depend on the services of the operators to communicate to loved ones, friends and business associates to suffer losses due to poor telecommunications services, adding that operators the KPI indicted as feeding poor services, would be penalised from this quarter, to serve as deterrent to others.

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