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Telecoms Consumers May Pay Less Tariff In 2011

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Consumers of telecommunications services in the country may enjoy lower call rates from 2011 going by the tariff war that started among operators in 2010.

The crash in call rates started barely two weeks after Bharti Airtel acquired former Zain and started re-branding the company.

Bharti Airtel, which took over mobile telephone operations in 15 African countries in a deal that has made it the world’s fifth-biggest mobile company with 180 million customers in 18 countries, has never hidden its plan to reduce tariffs in Nigeria.

Its Chairman, Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, flaunted his company’s low-tariff strategy while unveiling the brand identity in Nigeria, said that it would give other network operators a good fight to have a good share of Nigeria’s telecoms market.

Just days after Mittal threw the gauntlet, Airtel crashed its call rates to as low as N9 per minute from the industry average rates of N35 to N42 per minute.

This price reduction strategy jolted the industry and elicited swift responses from other network operators.

Other operators have now initiated a number of value added propositions and tariff packages to sustain revenue and retain subscribers.

Etisalat had earlier slashed its call rates by 50 per cent from a peak of 50k per second to 25k in its Easylife offer which has a daily access charge of N20.

Mr Steve Evans, Chief Operating Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, said that the company was unperturbed by Airtel’s low- tariff strategy.

Evans said that his network was one of the best in Nigeria and its tariffs were competitive.

MTN Nigeria has also introduced new tariff packages: MTN Funlink, Smartlink, Prolink, Bizlink and Happilink that allow customers to enjoy more air time at highly reduced costs to customers across its market segments.

Mrs Funmi Omogbenigun, General Manager (Corporate Communications) in MTN Nigeria, said the telecommunications industry in Nigeria was one of the most competitive in the world.

She said that the drive to provide value to the customer was an important consideration for players in the industry.

According to Omogbenigun, reducing tariffs by any operator is not something that is new in the telecoms market.

Globacom had similarly inaugurated a package in Port Harcourt that enables telecoms subscribers to pay 25k per second for all calls to any network in the country without any rental or access fee.

Mr Lanre Ajayi, President of Nigerian Internet Group (NIG), said he saw no link between tariff reduction and halting investment, adding that Airtel’s action would stimulate expansion of networks rather than diminish investments in the sector.

“On the other hand, it will call for further investment because when you reduce tariffs, you are asking more people to make more calls and when that happens, traffic increases.

“When traffic increases, it requires expanded network. It’s just logical that when an operator is planning to attract more traffic to its network, it’s planning to expand its network,” Ajayi said.

According to him, price war is part of competition and “when you are going to war, you use all tools at your disposals and price war just happens to be one of the weapons in competition”.

 Ajayi said that the ensuing price war in the sector was not unexpected.

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Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity

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Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).

Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.

It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.

Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.

Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.

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Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments

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President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.

The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.

According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.

He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.

Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.

The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.

He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.

On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.

He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.

“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.

“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.

“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.

”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.

“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.

“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.

On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.

On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.

According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.

The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”

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Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari

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Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.

The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.

Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.

He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.

He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.

“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.

“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.

“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”

He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.

This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.

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