Thursday, 1 December 2016

FG disowns NCC, telecoms operators on tariff hike.

Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, yesterday, absolved the Federal Government of complicity in the bid by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to increase the price consumers pay on data services. The Minister distanced his ministry from the controversial data tariff increase, denying that it authorized it. 

This came as the Senate also, yesterday, condemned in totality the planned tariff increment and asked network providers to immediately stop implementation of the new tariff billed to take effect today. 

Reacting, telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, announced immediate suspension of the new minimum pricing template for data services by mobile operators in the country, explaining that its decision was informed by the need to make more consultations. 

Speaking on RayPower FM’s Fact File programme, yesterday, Adebayo maintained that the Federal Government never issued any directive to either the regulator, the NCC, or the telecommunications operators in the country authorizing increases in prices of data from today as claimed. 

Shittu insisted that he was never consulted before the announcement was made, stressing that the government did not authorize operators to raise tariffs. He, however, assured Nigerians that the government would look into the matter and continue to protect their interests. “I can tell you that I was never a party to it (data tariff hike). Government never gave any such instruction. This government believes in democratic process and we would continue to protect the interest of Nigerians,” he said.  

The Senate condemned in totality the tariff increment by service providers in Nigeria and asked network providers to immediately stop the implementation of the new tariff billed to take effect today. Noting that the new tariff regime was ill-timed and anti-people, because of the present economic situation in the country, the Senate summoned Shittu, NCC, and network providers to appear before its Committee on Communications to intimate it on why they must increase data tariffs. The Senate also asked its Senator Gilbert Nnaji-led Committee on Communications to commence a comprehensive investigation into the matter that has, among others, generated controversies across the country and report back within one week. 

The resolutions of the upper chamber were sequel to a motion moved by Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, during which he condemned the planned hike in data tariffs, saying it would further impoverish the people. 

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