By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu has declared that Federal Government will not do anything that will bring pain and hardship to Nigerians.
Barrister Shittu who said this in Ibadan while fielding questions from newsmen on the state of the nation insisted that he was not a party to the failed plan increase of price of data by telecommunication companies in Nigeria.
The Minister pointed out that the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC as a body has the prerogative power under the law to increase price of data or do otherwise, saying he only learnt of the increase just like the common man on the streets.
“By law, it is the NCC which has the power to regulate, to licence, to also provide in a way frequency and all of that. The ministry does not have any business in issues of regulating the telecoms industry. So when the NCC wanted to increase the so called data issues, they didn’t take permission from us (Ministry) and myself. So, I heard it like any other person in the society heard of it,” he said.
Barrister Shittu added that “the reason for all these is that the Nigerian State has failed in the agreement they had with the telecom service providers,” saying, “they promised to provide them adequate power supply and security but all are not in place and they are spending a lot to provide them by themselves. Also the problem of right of way is involved with the high tax government and land grabbers are collecting from them”.
The Minister hinted that the proposal to increase the price of data started in 2013 but was suspended over some issues only to be recently resuscitated as a result of the current economic recession now biting harder on the finances of the telecommunications companies.
“As a government, we must weight the interest of our citizens against the interest of the operators. Otherwise, if it becomes unprofitable for these companies to operate here, they will simply pack and go. So, we also need to be considerate about their terms which we are not meeting. As a government and a Ministry, we have neither supported or oppose the proposal. What we are saying is that NCC is a regulatory body, who has the manpower, technological wherewithal to decide, and when they take this decision, we must try to respect their expertise”.
According to the Minister, “this is because the Buhari government is at pains, if Nigerians are in pains. Government would not want to do anything that will bring pain and hardship to Nigerians, but again government must also face the reality that we are in a reality where you do not throw the baby away with the bath water; to create a situation where Nigerian interest at the end of the day will not be jeopardized.”
Barrister Shittu then asked Nigerians to show mutual understanding for the operators and the NCC in reaching an understandable conclusion on the matter, charging them to come up with the reality that the companies are profit making ventures.
By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.