by Stanley AzuakolaThe major telecommunications operators in Nigeria are locked in a battle of wits with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). The matter has now turned into a case of who blinks first.
On May 11, NCC slapped a cumulative fine of N1.17 billion on Globacom, Airtel, MTN, and Etisalat, citing poor quality of service on their networks in March and April as the reason. The telcos were supposed to make the payment not later than May 25, 2012, but it’s been 13 days since the due date and companies remain adamant.
According to the President of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, the companies have resolved not to pay the fine.
“We are still discussing and holding our grounds. The fine is inappropriate, it is an act against the facts and it does not reflect the realities of the challenges that we face as industry operators, which the regulator is very well aware. We are insisting that the parameters for Quality of Service (QoS) must be redefined in line with the peculiarities of our operating environment,” Adebayo said.
Meanwhile, the N1.17 billion fine imposed by the NCC has now increased to N1.3 billion as a result of the N2.5 million daily late payment fees the NCC announced would be added as long as the contravention persists.
Most Nigerians are worried by this stand-off and are hoping it doesn’t turn into a case of two elephants fighting and the grass underneath their feet becoming the unfortunate victims. It is feared that the stalemate may further deteriorate the quality of service across networks.
Adebayo complained about the manner in which the fine was imposed, explaining that NCC made a public show of the matter, rather than addressing the real issue that led to poor telecoms service across the country.
Meanwhile, the director public affairs for NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo has said that the position of the NCC remains unchanged from that held by the vice chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah when he met the operators last week. At that meeting, Dr. Juwah had insisted that the telcos pay up their fines first before making complaining.