The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, admitted yesterday that it never anticipated the daunting challenges thrusted upon the telecom sector this year, particularly the indebtedness of Etisalat Nigeria to a consortium of banks to the tune of 1.2 billion dollars.
The Commission ,however, said the problem was being managed by concerned regulatory bodies in such a way that Etisalat’s 21 million customers would continue to enjoy its services, while not a single worker would be fired in the company as a result of the crisis.
The NCC’s Executive Commissioner in Charge of Stakeholders Management, Mr Sunday Dare, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 80 edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre, Abuja.
He noted that while the forum was to find answers to various issues agitating the minds of the consumer, the regulatory body has been consistent in its resolve to protect the rights of the consumer in line with international best practices and standards.
Dare who represented Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC at the forum maintained that the NCC declared this year “The Year of Telecom Consumers” to underscore the fact that if all the initiatives, projects and investments in the telecom sector had met with low consumer patronage, the telecom revolution would have been a failure.
It is really the investment of the consumer through patronage of services that has encouraged build out and supported service provision. Thus there is need to celebrate and recognize the consumer as the boss of the industry, Prof Danbatta stated.
Danbatta further said: ” the commission has taken steps to ensure that the telecommunications sector remain vibrant and has carried out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the country are healthy.
“Where necessary NCC has made interventions to prevent disruptions to consumers experience. In addition, to ensure that licensees in the industry continue to operate as viable business, we have commenced aggressive enforcement of the NCC’s Code of Corporate Governance”.
Acting Director General of Consumer Protection Council, Akinju Opelola noted that the telecom consumers have become vulnerable due to series of abuses in the sector and urged the regulatory body to enforce necessary penalties for the protection of the consumers.
She listed invasion of consumers privacy, fraudulent and unstructured services and unsolicited messages as part of the abuses, saying the NCC should ensure the rights of consumers to standard services, value addition, and rights to healthy environment.