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MTN, kindly pay up

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How MTN sliced billions off its Nigerian telecoms fine- A Reuters Report

By Joseph Edgar . . .

Nigeria has always been known for its very weak regulatory environment. In fact it is very well known globally as an environment where anything goes hence the usually wide margins that drive investors with weak ethical considerations towards us.

MTN since its berthing has been a very strong player in our clime, taking advantage of the weak structures and corrupt environment to maximize their profits while also using lower than international best practices to repatriate these funds. Their staff welfare policies are a far cry from what is expected from such a large behemoth. Nigerian workers there daily cry against their maltreatment, the segregation in pay structure and all sort of maltreatment.

Remember, they were the ones that said we could not get per second billing, taking advantage of the euphoria Nigerians were drooling in at the long expected emergence of mobile telephony to skim out earlier than usual revenues. Not until, Mike Adenuga’s Glo did we get succour. All the billions made up until that time went to them.

This case in point is not only annoying but also shows their gross disregard for the security and total well-being of their host society. The law was clear, decommission all unregistered SIMS. I hear only five million SIMS out of their over 60 million SIMS were affected. But in their usual disregard of constituted authorities, and flagrant disdain of our environment and laws, refused to decommission the SIMS while the others went ahead to comply thereby giving them undue advantage over the rest as is usually the case.

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What sounded their waterloo was the fact that one of their unregistered SIMs was used during the kidnap of Chief Olu Falae and only God knows just how many other heinous crimes were perpetrated with these their evil SIMS.

So rather than lose just about $400m by decomposing these SIMS, they are now staring at $5b. This to me is payback time. They should pay the fine in full, otherwise others who compiled would hurt due to the unfair advantage they gave themselves by still making money off illegal SIMS.

To me, if this succeeds it would boost the credibility of our government and regulatory authorities. It would show that in Nigeria it is no longer business as usual. We have the markets, the deepest pool of skilled labour in Africa, infrastructure is getting better, ICT is penetrating at a strong rate, so we should be very arrogant in dealing with these rogue investors. The system should be cleaned up so that genuine investors can come and do business in an environment that encourages the best in strong business ethics.

This would send that signal and this should give us some notches in the ranking when measuring indices that show best standards. Enough warnings where given, the rule was clear but yet it was ignored.

The same in other areas, from FRSC change of number plates to the SECs minimum capital requirements you see people begging for waivers, extensions and outright cancelations even in the face of clear advantages to the economy these rules are bringing.

Enough is enough. MTN pay. We even need the money.

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