The newly appointed minister of communications, Barr.Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has vowed to ensure strict compliance with the $5.2billion fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC.
Speaking to a select group of journalists at a cocktail dinner organised in his honour by his friends, the minister said his primary concern is the interest of Nigeria, which he vowed to pursue with utmost importance.
“I don’t think there is an issue in that matter. Every country has its laws and regulations and once you violate those laws you pay what you are supposed to pay. The regulatory authorities fined them and I don’t think they are challenging that fine; so I don’t think I have any role to play other than ensuring that that regulation is enforced to the letters.
“ The interest of Nigeria is most important. I am aware that MTN operates in about 18 countries but from Nigeria alone they make more than 50 percent of their profit, so I don’t think they are going to complain about the fines because they know that they have violated Nigeria’s laws and they know that effect follows cause. So something has happened, consequences have arisen and the rule of law requires that you obey,” the minister said, assuring Nigerians of improved services and improved generation of revenue into the national coffers in the next 90 days.
According to him, the telecoms sector is capable of contributing immensely to the nation’s revenue as the current administration is committed to the diversification of Nigeria’s economy from oil which has been the mainstay for decades.
“Petroleum has been the source of our mainstay as a nation over the years. Previously it was agric but over the last 20 or 25 years, it has been petroleum but I believe that with our population of over 170 million, about a quarter of which is patronising or subscribing to telecommunication services, it can be a huge source of revenue to the Nigerian economy in the next couple of years because these services are very invaluable services that people readily pay for even when those services being paid for are not totally satisfactory.
“I will work towards improvement in quality of telecommunications services as well as ensuring that Nigeria makes multiples of what it is currently making from telecommunication services,” he assured.
According to him, he would bring his experience in both the public and private sectors to bear on his new assignment as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and especially in the telecommunications sector where he has been assigned to coordinate.
Barr Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu qualified as a lawyer in 1975 and has since then been involved in politics.
He has served as a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, and is a two-time commissioner in Oyo State, (1983 and 2007).
The event was well attended by friends, political associates, as well as his kinsmen from Oke Ogun axis in Oyo State.
Recall that the Nigeria Communications Commission had in October issued a landmark fine of $5.2billion (N1.04 trillion) against MTN Nigeria for failing to disconnect subscribers with unregistered and incomplete subscriber identification modules, SIM cards, within the stipulated time.
The fine which is the largest in the history of telecom infringements eventually claimed the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company in Nigeria, Sifiso Dabengwa, who resigned his position earlier this week, citing the development in Nigeria as part of the reasons he left.
The company immediately appointed the non-executive chairman of the company, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko as Executive Chairman in a temporary capacity.
Nhleko is expected to act as Executive Chairman for a maximum period of six months within which the company would appoint a successor for Dabengwa.


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