Honestly, there isn’t a more apt word that describes this Nigeria-MTN battle than “saga”. It’s been going on since last year and just when we thought we’d seen the end of it, the Nigerian House of Representatives pull an Orubebe – they are not taking it.
According to Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu, MTN’s fine was reduced from N780 billion to N330 billion to attract investors and give companies the confidence to invest more in Nigeria. I’m going to quote him now; “The MTN issue is an over-flogged issue as far as I am concerned. If anything, Nigerians should be happy that the matter has been laid to rest once and for all. The reduction was done in the interest of Nigeria. We need private sector to thrive just as they need us to thrive. We, in government, do not want to kill any business. All the decisions that have been taken on the MTN issue are on the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Someone thinks this is the smartest thing he has said so far in his administration, and I might have to agree. The MTN saga has gone on long enough, everyone has (hopefully) learned their lesson, we need to move on. But are you really a Nigerian if you don’t drag the matter? The answer is no.
The Nigerian House of Reps has opposed the MTN fine reduction because this action “undermines the integrity and independence of the National Assembly.” In the words of the chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Saheed Fijabi, “As a House, we have opposed the reduction of the fine because there is no provision in the NCC’s Act that the fine can be reduced.”
That’s not all – they want more money. Fijabi continued by saying, “In fact, Section 21 of the Act stipulates that even the CEO of a defaulting firm can be made to pay additional fine of over N200,000 on each of the lines. This means that MTN’s total fine should be doubled to about N3 trillion and not even the N1.4 trillion it was asked to pay.”
I just would like to point out that “Fijabi” literally means “one who’s born during a fight,” so it kinda is not surprising that the Chairman for the House Committee on Telecommunications is not taking this lying down.
Anyway, the House has summoned all the parties that were involved in “going behind their back” to resolve the MTN issue to explain the reasons for their actions. That’s the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, and the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Garba Danbatta.
It’d be nice if this matter ended once and for all. Just take the money, guys.