From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
There seems to be no end in sight in the controversial fine imposed on MTN by its regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), over the violation of SIM card registration laws.
This was as the Saheed Fijabi-led House Committee on Telecommunications yesterday summoned the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, to appear before it on Monday, June 20, to explain why the Federal Government agreed to accept N330 billion as the final payment for the fine without recourse to the National Assembly.
Fijabi who expressed reservations on how the latest agreement was arrived at, ruled in favour of a motion by Ossai Nicholas Ossai that the committee, while allowing the Permanent Secretary of the Communications Ministry, Sunny Echono, speak at yesterday’s session, still summon the Minister.
The absence of the Minister led members of the committee taking turns to condemn what they described as the disrespect shown the committee by him.
The lawmakers were particularly miffed by the inter-ministerial committee consisting of the Justice and Communications Ministries, who represented government for announcing the outcome of the negotiations without informing the House, even after Shittu had accused the committee of delaying government from taking a decision on the matter.
Regardless, Echono who represented the Minister told the committee that the new agreement reached between government and MTN, “had the blessings of the highest levels of government.”
The Permanent Secretary also argued that the inter-ministerial committee concluded negotiations and made the outcome public, as it was made to understand that it wouldn’t be prejudiced to whatever decision is arrived at by the House.
“I am in position to confirm to the committee that government has approved the sum of N330 billion as whole and final approval settlement of the fine imposed by NCC on MTN,” Echono stated.
On April 12, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, appeared before the committee following a summons to explain why the N50 billion initial deposit paid by MTN was not paid into Consolidated Revenue Account (CRA).
Malami, who told lawmakers that the money was lodged into an “asset recovery account” as, according to law, money in the CRA is shared between the Federal Government and states, also explained his involvement in the matter to have been due to advice from the court that government negotiate with MTN.
MTN said in a statement on Friday, June 10, that it had reached an agreement with the Federal Government on terms acceptable to all parties.
“MTN will pay the NCC the sum of N330 billion in full and final settlement of the fine in line with an agreed payment plan,” the MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, said in the statement.
Diamond Bank reinvents esusu savings scheme
Diamond Bank said it is raising the bar in the nation’s financial inclusion strategy as it reinvents the traditional esusu contributory system, elevating the age-long communal collection and savings practice to a digitised online Diamond eSUSU scheme.
According to the bank, the Diamond eSUSU is operated through its highly secured internet platform and is expected to “revolutionise the saving and investment habit of low-income earners by encouraging and helping participating account holder groups to meet their savings target on time,” said Ayona Trimnell, Head of the bank’s Corporate Communications.
According to her, current realities in the financial services sub-sector have made it imperative for Diamond Bank to continue its financial inclusion drive, stressing that Diamond eSUSU will help grow the formal financial system.
Diamond eSUSU is a contributory saving scheme that offers a group of customers with common interest, an opportunity to collectively save toward targeted goals of each group member on a rotatory basis.
With a minimum of three customers and a maximum of 12, each member of a group, using the bank’s secure platform, contributes an agreed amount that would be received by a member as bulk payment at the end of each saving circle. The shortest circle is a quarter while the longest is 12 months.
At the end of every month, each member of Diamond eSUSU group would be debited and one member is credited until each member of the group benefits, and the next circle continues. Each contributory savings circle is determined by the group through a random selection process of pick-the-first-and-be-the-first and pick-the-last-and-be-the-last basis.