..TUC threatens showdown as Senate promises to intervene
• We did it to protect small operators –Regulator
By Amechi Ogbonna and Isaac Anumihe
The directive handed down to telecom operators by industry regulators, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to increase fees charged on internet services has continued to elicit angry reactions from stakeholders across the country. But according to NCC, the hike is intended to protect the small operators whose position is being threatened by the ‘big four operators’.
Following the NCC directive, several telecom subscribers took to their social media platforms including twitter handle and facebook to condemn the action which they said would further impoverish ordinary Nigerian.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) for instance yesterday issued a stern warning against the planned hike in prices of data services by Nigerian telecommunication.
Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, the TUC President said the union would vehemently oppose the plan which aims at further impoverishing hapless Nigerians who were already overburdened by the country’s harsh economic crisis.
Similarly, radical Senator, Shehu Sani, in his comment on Twitter noted that “increasing tariff on data services is simply about extorting more from the people after paying more for electricity”.
Kazzem Mossa Tijani reacted thus;“Enough of these extortions. Salary is not increased. Salary is not regular and everything is just going up. What a country. It seems NCC is not experiencing recession. God save us from these heartless people.”
Also commenting on the issue, Tunde Leye @tundeleye condemned the planned increase. “NCC is about to do to data what CBN has been doing to dollars, that we’ve always done to fuel and a big reason power is bad. Price fixing,” he stated.
For Konnie @Konnie772: “it’s horrible honestly, they really are greedy, selfish, wicked, nonchalant etc. They just don’t care at all” Others who reacted included Etin-Osa @etinmagbe who tweeted: “How did the FG & NCC decide on the time for Telcos to increase data tarrif? How does that even make sense? Despite the present hardship?” In a follow-up tweet, she added “Do these people even care at all for the common man on the streets that’s struggling to survive?”
“NCC forces an increase in data charges. Tax calls above 3 mins. Drone permit for a year, $4000. Our leaders are scared of information,” tweeted Ben Bassey @benbassey:“
Mr Aye [email protected] questioned the rationale for the NCC decision: “Is the data tariff hike mandated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) going to help grow Nigeria’s economy?”
J.F.M: “I do not have issues with the data price increase in its own self. The mind boggling question here is – What does the NCC seek to achieve?”
Aliyu Sulyman @mindadi1: “They don’t want us to have access to data, They know the power youths have on the internet.”
Several of them turned to the Senate President Bukola Saraki who had pledged to intervene on the issue, urging him through tweets sent to him to prevail a rethink on the part of NCC.
Udeagbala Chinazaw rote: “This needs to be discouraged,” while Friday Ojembe @Ojembe13 said: It’s actually disheartening to hear about this hike in data tariff at this critical time in our history.”
Other tweets to Saraki read: “Good one Mr. SP. You are the last hope of the average Nigerian. Pls save us from this government policy.”
Monday Emeoka: “The earlier the better, Mr Senate President. Please.”
Ajayi Odun: “Other countries compared to Nigeria. The planned increase shows they lack focus.”
Meanwhile the Senate yesterday promised to look into the hike in data charges by the mobile operators. In response to a tweet by Henry Ezeanya earlier urging the senate to look into the proposed hike in data by NCC, Senate President Bukola Saraki, assured that the upper legislative chamber would tackle the NCC on the proposed increase.
The Senate President in replying, said that the Senate “will do”