The Minister for Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu has made a case for telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria which was slammed with a whopping $5.2 billion (about N1.4 trillion) fine by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards.
The new minister told Reuters in an interview, that Nigeria does not want MTN to quit the country suggesting the mobile phone company may have found a sympathetic ear in its bid to reduce the penalty.
The deadline for payment falls on Monday with little clarity as to whether the South Africa-listed company can, or
will, pay the fine.
“A judgment has been given, as it were, and the period for enforcement has not yet passed,” Adebayo Shittu, who was sworn in as communications minister this week said.
The fine – if fully enforced – amounts to more than the past two years of profit for MTN in its biggest market, but Shittu said it should not jeopardise the company’s future in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.
“Nobody wants MTN to die. Nobody wants MTN to shut down,” he said.
Nigeria accounts for 37 percent of revenues for MTN, which operates in more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Since the announcement of the fine, its shares have lost nearly 25 percent of their value.
Shittu who stressed that the ball remained in MTN’s court, however said “nothing before me” when asked to comment on the progress of the talk.
“If any new thing would happen, there must be initiative from concerned quarters,” he said. “It is up to MTN.”
When asked about the consequences of non-payment, Shittu said the law would be followed. He did not give details but insisted: “We don’t want them to leave.”
Speaking to Reuters about his plans for the sector, Shittu said he thought telecoms was key to helping President Muhammadu Buhari’s goal of diversifying the economy away from oil, adding, that the sector provided a quicker avenue for new growth than agriculture, another sector the government wants to expand.
RipplesNigeria …without borders, without fears
Join the conversation
Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism
Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.
As a media platform, we hold leadership accountable and will not trade the right to press freedom and free speech for a piece of cake.
If you like what we do, and are ready to uphold solutions journalism, kindly donate to the Ripples Nigeria cause.
Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.
SPECIAL REPORT: Shell’s inaccurate data raises questions around efforts to control methane emissions in Nigeria
Much worse for the environment than carbon dioxide, despite global efforts to control methane, emissions continue soaring. With over a...
FEATURE…Missing Rig Workers: Tragedy, Injustice and the Depthwize cabal
The serene landscape of Ovhor in Delta State bore witness to a disaster that shook the nation’s conscience. The capsize...
FEATURE… In the shadow of kidnappers: The story of Nigeria’s albatross
For decades, Nigeria has been grappling with a problem that has threatened the safety and stability of its people: kidnapping....
FEATURE: The falling standard of education in Nigeria today: Whose Fault?
Over the years, education has proven to be the fulcrum facilitating national development in any state. Through education, knowledge is...
INVESTIGATION: Failed multi-million naira constituency water projects litter Sokoto communities
Many rural communities in Sokoto State are at the risk of an outbreak of diarrhea and other diseases due to...