The newly sworn in Minister of Communications, Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, yesterday, threw his weight behind the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the $5.2 billion (N1.04 trillion) fine slammed on MTN for failing to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered SIM users.
Shittu, who was being feted by Committee of Friends yesterday in Abuja, said “I don’t think there is an issue in that matter.”
According to him, “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 letter.”
He further stated that, “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 fine 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.”
Fielding questions from journalists on what he hopes to bring on board as the Communications minister, he said, “Petroleum has been the source of our mainstay as a nation over the years. Previously it was agriculture, but over the last 20 or 25 years, it has been petroleum.
I believe that with our population of over 170 million, about a quarter of which is patronising or subscribing to telecommunication services which 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.”
He stressed that he would work towards improvement in the quality of telecommunications services as well as ensuring that Nigeria makes multiples of what it is currently making from telecommunication services.
On what Nigerians should expect in the next 90 days, he said there would be improvement in services and revenue generation into the national coffers.
Going through is background, he said he qualified as a lawyer in 1975 and “consistently I have been in politics, but this is the highest position I have ever held. I have been a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly; I have been a commissioner twice- 1983 and 2007.
That is at the state level. Again, I have been in Federal Government committees, but to be appointed as a minister of the Federal Republic, I feel very happy; I feel fulfilled and I thank God that he has brought today.”