The Minister of Communications Technology Adebayo Shittu has refuted claims that he approved data tariff increase by telecommunication companies. He spoke while fielding questions from reporters in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, saying the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the agency empowered under the law to do so. He said: “The reason for this is that the Nigerian state has failed in the agreement they had with the telecom service providers.
“They promised to provide them adequate power supply and security but all these are not in place and they are spending a lot of money to provide them by themselves. “Also the problem of right of way is involved with the high tax government and land grabbers are collecting from them.As a government, we must weight the interest of our citizens against the interest of the operators. Otherwise, if it becomes impossible for these companies to operate here, they will simply pack and go. So, we also need to be considerate about their terms which we are not meeting.
The minister said he learnt of the proposed increase just like any other common man on the streets, but revealed that the proposal on the increase dated back to 2013. He further said, “The Ministry of Communications is saddled with the responsibility of providing political leadership for the ICT industry. By that, it means that the ministry is involved in the formulation of policyissues as opposed to dabbling into regulatory issues, which concerns the telecoms industries.
“By law, it is the NCC which has the power to regulate, to licence, to also provide frequency and all of that. The ministry does not have any business in issues of regulating the telecoms industry. So when the NCC wanted to increase the the so-called data issue, they didn’t take permission from us (Ministry) and myself. So, I heard it like any other person in the society. As a government and a ministry, we have neither supported or oppose the proposal. what we are saying is that NCC is a regulatory body, that has the manpower, technological wherewithall to decide, and when they take this decision, we must try to respect their expertise.”