The Senate yesterday directed the four leading Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators in the country; the MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9Mobile to appear before its Committee on Communications in the bid to check intrusive and unsolicited adverts from them to their numerous customers.
Besides, senate also asked the Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC); the Consumer Protection Council (CPC); and the Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) to appear before its committee to seek ways of addressing the situation.
Senate particularly urged the NCC to ensure that any person, or entity found to have abused regulatory guidelines, is sanctioned, in accordance with the extant rules and regulations. Senate’s resolution followed a motion titled “Need to check Intrusive and Unsolicited Adverts by Telecom Companies and Service Providers” which was moved by Senator Yahaya A. Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North) during plenary. Presenting the motion, Senator Abdullahi recalled with sense of nostalgia, the euphoria that attended the commencement of the GSM, 17 years ago in Nigeria and expressed it worries about the continued deterioration of GSM services in the country.
He regretted that “though the service providers have been reaping huge revenues from their investments, Nigerians have not enjoyed commensurate quality of services”. The lawmaker was worried about increased incidence of dropped calls, unaccounted “disappearance” of airtime from devices, weak signals across networks and false report of unavailable call destinations; Senator Abdullahi further expressed concern about the issue of frequent unsolicited calls, product and programme promos, as well as instances of tricking Nigerians to subscribe to riddles and jokes, indiscriminate religious contents and caller tunes that sometimes offend subscribers’ sensibilities.
He noted that “even with the setting up of the ‘Do-Not-Disturb’, DND opt-out application, as demanded by the NCC, the GSM operators have not done enough to educate the public on its availability and workings. “With high tariffs and an estimated 150 million subscribers in the country, the four leading operators within the industry-MTN, (53.4million, or 39%), Airtel, (38.3 million, or 26%), Globacom, (38.2 million, or 26%) and 9Mobile, (16.8%, or 12%), are yet to fully integrate themselves into the larger Nigerian economy in ways that could provide opportunities for Nigerians to benefit from their operations”, he observed. In his contribution, the Senate Deputy Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South) urged the National Assembly to rise to the occasion by halting the trend in the interest of subscribers.
The Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki called on the NCC, CPC, AAPN, and other stakeholders to seek ways of addressing the situation without allowing it to affect the nation’s economy. Meanwhile, Senate yesterday told the federal government it has to save local beverage industries from going into extinction by suspending the proposed tariff hike for their distillers from the present 20 per cent to 67 per cent. Senate said the putting on hold of the tariff hike becomes imperatives for the stakeholders to clear the grey areas in the best interest of the nation’s economy.
Senate resolution followed a motion titled, “Urgent need to review the proposed Excise Tariff Increment in order to save Local Distillers of Beverages from looming extinction”, that was moved by Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC Imo North) and cosponsored by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South).
The lawmakers said it would initiate a stakeholder’s public hearing by referring the motion to the relevant committee for an unfettered discourse between the federal government and the relevant stakeholders with a view to reaching a full understanding of the issues to assist government in taking the best action in the overall interest of Nigerians affected by the policy.