Chief Deolu Ogunbajo is the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers. In this interview, with Zekeri, Idakwo Laruba he gave his view on MTN/NCC face-off and how it is affecting subscribers:
On the MTN and NCC saga, now that MTN has gone to court, how do you envisage the outcome of the case, do you see NCC losing out, knowing how getting justice in Nigeria is very cumbersome?
Paying the fine will be too harsh on the part of MTN. This fine is the highest ever in the regulatory history of Nigeria. This will no doubt scare prospective investors away from Nigeria. MTN controls about 20-25 percent of the customer base in Nigeria. Its like stopping MTN from doing business, which means loss for subscribers in terms of business communication, etc. That is why we have taken both MTN and NCC to court, because there was no enough enlightenment and sensitization from them to educate subscribers on the implications of non SIM registration.
Sir, how do you explain the court order restricting MTN from moving money to foreign banks, could it be that MTN might be planning to move their money knowing fully well that the telecom operator is a portfolio investor in Nigeria?
It may not be unconnected to the fine, except if the money they are moving out is more than their profits maybe that’s why there is a court order stopping the movement of fund. However, we re not happy with MTN as well, MTN recently took over visafone, and also bought spectron through NBC to operate cable television. The sales was not transparent, there was no open bidding.
Similarly sir, we like to know what NATCOMS is doing to ensure subscribers rights are protected from MTN such that quality service does not dwindle?
We have severally reported such cases to NCC, and right now we are in court. NCC have key indicators to measure quality service from operators, if any operator falls bellow standard they get fine. However, fines does not do subcribers any good. NCC is only interested in making money for the government without considering compensations for subcribers who is directly affected. We have taken MTN to court over the new call for sim card registration, because subcribers who have registered before are still request to re-register which is quite inconvenient.
Moreso Sir, how will you rate the performance of NCC since Danbatta came on board as the executive vice chairman?
He is so far on the right track. He is too new on the seat to start judging him. The ministry is also working, you can see the minister calling the stakeholders for a round table discussion.
Sir, what are the challenges facing NATCOMS?
One of the major challenges is quality services from operators and that is what we are fighting for we hope it will be better in this 2016.
Sir, can you tell us how NATCOMS is funded?
Its another challenge we are facing right now. No funding from anywhere since 2002 to date; we are only surviving on individual contributions. Myself , the secretary and the PRO from our personal purse .In other countries, it’s the regulator that is responsible for the funding, but unfortunately we are not seeing that here. Like I said before, NCC is only interested in making money for the government.
Finally sir, what is NATCOMS agenda for NCC in 2016, and what should subcribers expect from you this year?
Our expection is for NCC to be more proactive on the side of the subcribers, they should go beyond fines, they should try and factor in compensations for subcribers whenever there is poor quality of service or an ingfrigement on subcribers rights. Subscribers should be patient with us as we are working to ensure improve service delivery.