The National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOM) has said that it will sue the Federal Government in May to suspend the government’s barring of subscribers’ outgoing calls.
Recall that on Monday, April 4, 2022, the Federal Government ordered telecom companies to bar outgoing calls on all lines that are yet to link their National Identification Number (NIN) and the Subscriber Identity Module.
Following this directive, about 72.77 million active telecom subscribers were barred from making calls through their SIMs.
Responding, NATCOM urged the Federal Government to extend the implementation of the SIM-NIN policy by three months, and gave the government one month to implement the ban.
In an interview with The Tide’s source on Wednesday , President of the association, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said NATCOM was set to take the government to court next month, if it fails to temporarily lift the ban.
He disclosed that the association will be joined in a suit already filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project against the Federal Government on the NIN-SIM policy implementation.
“We have said that if the Federal Government does not lift the ban, we would go to court. But SERAP said it had filed a document in the court. So, we are giving the government until the end of the month.
“NATCOM is saying that by end of the month, we will go to court. We are going to court to ensure the government unbans the lines and extends the deadline. SERAP has made the first move already, we would be joined in the suit.
“After the expiration of our deadline for the government to reconsider its decision, we would formally go to court, along with SERAP. By the first week in May, we are joining SERAP in the court.”
Ogunbanjo noted that some subscribers who had linked their NIN with their SIMs prior to the directive were also blocked.
He said the directive was unfair to subscribers, adding that its implementation had affected their businesses.
“The present situation of things”, he said, “is so bad because a lot of people that have linked their NIN and SIM are also being blocked. These consumers now have to visit telecom service centres. This is unfortunate.
“When I spoke to one of the telecom companies, I was told that only ongoing calls were being blocked, as subscribers can still use data, WhatsApp, and text message services; which aligns with the directive of the ministry. However, several people use their lines for business, and this is having an effect on them.
“They can’t make call to their clients, this is a very terrible situation that is affecting businesses. These are part of the reasons we will join SERAP in the suit, so that the Federal Government can unban these lines. And we would request at least a minimum of three months extension of the exercise in the court”, he stated.
The President also alleged that racketeering had returned to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) centres as officials now charge between N3,000 and N10,000 for NIN registrations.
“The NIMC centres are jampacked. Telecom consumers are suffering. By the time they go to the centres, they have to pay between N3,000 and N10,000, depending on when the subscriber wants to get the NIN.
“Yes, the government says it is free, but these acts are open. Let security agents wear muftis and go to the NIN centres, they would see for themselves that the NIN centre officials are extorting members of the public. The only place they are not exploiting subscribers is the telcom centres, the mobile network operators.
“It is free there, but they are constrained as to how many subscribers they can attend to in a day. There is always a crowd there too. And sometimes, the network from the NIMC is slow. These are the situations subscribers are facing. This is unfortunate, and it is the reason we are requesting a deadline extension”, Ogunbanjo concluded.
‘Xerox Committed To Growth Of Nigeria’s Economy’
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Xerox Nigeria Limited, Engr. Femi Abidoye has said that the company is committed to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Abidoye said this during the customers’ forum/products exhibition themed, “Xerox Business Solutions For Digital Transformation In The 21th Century”, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said captains of industry, SMEs, Startups, big players in the oil and gas industry, and politicians should patronise the company’s products to empower the youth.
Speaking earlier at the programme, the MD described Xerox as the foremost document management solution provider with a global reputation and unbeatable track record in quality service delivery, excellent products innovation, clear market leader in Africa and household name in reprographic market in Nigeria.
He said the company commenced business operation in Lagos five decades ago, adding that it has partnered with all states in the South-South and south-Eastzones through its dealership network.
“Knowledge is no doubt a powerful tool in our quest to move forward, which is why a better knowledge and appreciation of the use and application of Xerox equipment as it relates to storage and retrieval cannot be overlooked in our overall consideration”.
He said the company has been blazing the trail as the foremost document management provider.
“Permit me to say that the overall objective of this digital transformation exhibition will have tremendous impact on the ever-changing technological advancement, communication and developmental stride in our overall economic advantage with world-class productivity,efficiency, return on investment and cost-saving initiative”.
Chairman of occasion, Dr. Kenneth Okujagu, said Xerox has been known for its quality.
He commended the company for maintaining the quality, and called for it to be sustained.
By: John Bibor
FG To Maximise Local Content Opportunities In Midstream, Downstream Sectors
The Federal Government has expressed firm determination to fully catalyse investments in the midstream and downstream sectors of the petroleum sector, with a view to creating employment for teeming youths and maximising local content opportunities.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva gave assurance when he declared open the Nigerian Content Midstream and Downstream Oil and Gas Summit organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Lagos.
He stated that the Nigerian oil and gas industry was currently in the phase of exploring the vast opportunities and potentials associated with the midstream and downstream sectors, and commended the NCDMB for intervening to foster dynamism in the sectors through the summit.
He acknowledged that the midstream and downstream sectors did not receive the deserved focus in the past but hinted that the situation was set to change because the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) contains fiscal incentives to attract investment in gas development, distribution, penetration, and utilisation and provides exceptional care for host communities.
He charged industry stakeholders to take determined steps to unlock natural gas and domestic production potentials and use the opportunities in the gas ecosystem to drag millions of Nigerians out of energy poverty.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr. SimbiKesiyeWabote affirmed that the board was keen to maximize Local Content opportunities in the midstream and downstream sectors because they offer the greatest number of employment opportunities as well as longevity of jobs in contrast to the upstream sector of the oil industry.
“This provides means to absorb outputs of our Human Capacity Development programs in the form of job opportunities,” he added.
He also stated that the entry barrier for businesses to partake in the midstream and downstream sectors of the industry is relatively lower compared to the upstream sector and there are vast business opportunities in the midstream to downstream sectors, ranging from processing, transportation, storage, and distribution that could be started on small scale and later scaled up to bigger enterprises thereby growing in-country capacities and capabilities.
According to Wabote, the profit margin is also attractive in the midstream and downstream, especially in the LPG distribution value chain and this serves as an incentive to attract a wider number of players.
He emphasized the need to maximise the potentials of the midstream and downstream sectors to ensure energy security and national pride, adding that the direct social impact of a productive and efficient midstream and downstream sector of the oil and gas industry also needs to be maximised.
The executive secretary further explained that the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act established NCDMB as the regulator of Nigerian Content in the entire spectrum of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
He added that the board’s regulatory role is not to stifle the industry but to provide enabling, and inclusive, business environment for businesses to thrive with the active participation of critical stakeholders.
Giving a rundown of the board’s achievements in the midstream and downstream sectors, he listed the partnership with Waltersmith, which resulted in the delivery of the 5,000barrels per day modular refinery in Imo State, the 2,500barrels per day Duport Modular Refinery located in Edo State, which is due for commissioning this year as well as the 2,000barrels per day Atlantic Refinery and the 12,000barrels/day Azikel Hydro-skimming Refinery both in BayelsaState, which are under construction.
Other achievements of the board include the partnership with the NNPC to construct a 50,000liters petroleum products terminal in Brass, the partnership with Bunorr Integrated Energy Ltd for the establishment of 48,000 liters/day Base Oil Production Facility in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which is due for commissioning this year and the ongoing construction of the Eraskon Lube Oil factory in Gbarain, Bayelsa State
Dwelling on the LPG value chain, he stated that the board had gone into partnership with some investors to develop some projects.
Some of them included the partnership with NEDO Gas Processing Company in Kwale, Delta State for the establishment of 80MMscfd of Gas Processing Plant and a 300MMscfd Kwale Gas Gathering hub, partnership with Triansel Gas Limited in Koko, Delta State for the establishment of 5,000MT LPG Storage and Loading Terminal Facility and partnership with Brass Fertiliser for the development of a 10,000MT/day Methanol Plant at Odiama in Brass.
Others are the partnership with Butane Energy to roll out LPG Bottling Plants and Depots in Abuja and 10 northern states and partnership with Southfield Petroleum for the establishment of 200 MMscfd gas processing plant at Utorogu, Delta State to produce 123,000MTPA of LPG, which is about 10percent of current LPG demand nationwide.
Other investments include the partnership with MOB Integrated Services for the construction of the 500MT Inland LPG terminal which is currently in operation at Dikko, Niger State as well as the partnership with Amal Technologies to set up a plant in Abuja to produce Smart Gas/Smoke Detector Alarm devices.
Withdrawal Of Naira Notes: Stakeholders Call For Caution
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has debunked rumours that it is planning to withdraw naira notes from circulation and replace it with its digital currency, the eNaira, which was launched last October by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that stakeholders had warned the apex bank to desist from such move.
Director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, at the weekend, noted that, the statement purportedly to have been made during a stakeholders’ engagement on eNaira adoption in Asaba, Delta State, was misconstrued.
He, therefore called on the public to disregard such information in its entirety.
The eNaira is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that was rolled out to improve financial inclusion in the country, reduce the cost of transactions, and boost security in the financial system.
According to Nwanisobi, the digital version of the Naira is meant to complement the existing currency notes and, therefore, will circulate simultaneously as a means of exchange and store of value.
On the benefits of adopting the eNaira, he said the digital legal tender, aside from the safety and speedy features, will also ensure greater access to financial services by the underbanked and unbanked populace, thereby enhancing financial inclusion.
Nwanisobi, therefore, urged members of the public and business owners to embrace the digital currency, the eNaira, saying it offers more possibilities.
Meanwhile, the eNaira speed wallet is expected to have another update which will allow users to pay bills and conumate online shopping payments directly from their wallets.
Stakeholders have, however, queried the decision of the government over planned removal of Naira notes from circulation.
They noted that in civilised societies, physical money exists side by side with other forms of financial transactions.
Speaking in an interview the The Tide’s source, the President of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees of Nigeria (NUBIFIE), Comrade Anthony Abakpa, expressed wonder how such a policy could be brought out without enough preparation and enough awareness.
“The CBN ought to give enough time to enable Nigerians prepare for it. CBN should know that not every Nigerian is having bank account, talkless of e-money. Most of them who cannot write would not be carried along.
“What CBN needs most is ability to educate everyone on it and save people from demoralisation, because it will demoralise and be cumbersome to many people and they will lose confidence in government.
“CBN should run both physical and e-money together, not total removal of physical notes from circulation”, Abakpa said.
On his part, the General Secretary of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSAN), Comrade Lucky Odigie, urged Federal Government to desist from policy summersaults.
He said, “Federal Government should not start what it will not be able to sustain. In fact, this policy has already failed before birth.
“How can Government just wake up with policy that would add more burdens to the masses that have already been pushed to the wall?”
Odigie also advised FG to always put the interest of the masses first in all their planning in order to reduce harsh economic situations that are pushing some into vices.
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