By Florence Onuegbu
Amid the move to takeover of Etisalat by a consortium of banks, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has assured subscribers that the network’s integrity would not compromised.
The Director, Public Affairs of NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, said in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos that the commission’s attention had been drawn to the planned takeover by the consortium of banks.
Ojobo said that the regulatory body was aware of the indebtedness of Etisalat to the consortium.
According to him, the NCC in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has mediated by holding several meetings with the banks, Etisalat and other stakeholders to find a solution.
“Regrettably, these meetings did not yield the desired results.
“The NCC wishes to reassure about 21 million Etisalat subscribers that it will do all within its regulatory power to ensure that Etisalat subscribers continue to enjoy the services provided by the operator.
“The commission has taken proactive steps to cushion the impact of the takeover; this is without prejudice to the ongoing effort between Etisalat and the banks toward a negotiated settlement.
“NCC wishes to reassure all stakeholders in the telecommunications sector, in particular the subscribers on the Etisalat network, that it will ensure that the integrity of the network is not compromised.’’
The statement said the commission had drawn the attention of the banks to provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 Section 38: Sub-sections 1 and 2.
“Sub-section 1 says: the grant of a license shall be personal to the licensee.
“The license shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed or transferred to another party unless the prior written approval of the commission has been granted;
“Sub-section 2 says: A licensee shall at all times comply by the terms and condition of the licence and the provision of this act and its subsidiary legislation,’’ it said.
The director said that while the banks and Etisalat were working at resolving the issues, the commission assured that subscribers would continue to enjoy the services provided by the telecommunications company.
In March, a consortium of 13 banks, both foreign and Nigerian, had wanted to take over the operations of Etisalat over a loan facility totalling 1.2 billion dollars, obtained in 2015.
The banks said their attempt to recover the loan was due to the pressure from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), demanding immediate cut down on the rate of non-performing loans.
The NCC and CBN waded into the matter to ensure an amicable resolution of the issue.
However, after three months of fruitless deliberations, the consortium of banks is finally taking over the telecommunications company.