Data Price Increase: ‘Buhari not aware of NCC’s directive to Telcos’
The Presidency, Senate and the Ministry of Communication have washed their hands off the NCC's directive to increase the price of internet data
The Nigerian Presidency claims it was "unaware" of the latest directive from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to Telcos (Telecommunication companies).
NCC had issued a directive to Telcos to increase the price of internet data offerings by as much as 300 percent.
According to top officials in the nation’s seat of power, the decision was taken over the head of the President and his number two man.
On Monday, Pulse broke the news of an impending data hike across all Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks.
Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta said the floor price for data services will translate to 90 kobo per megabyte for big operators.
This will effectively mean ushering back the price floor that was eliminated last year.
This implies that a data plan of 1.5 gigabyte will now cost the subscriber N3,000.
1.5 gigabyte currently goes for N1,000.
The new price regime, the NCC said, will kick off on December 1, 2016.
According to the NCC, it is introducing the new price floor "in order to provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry, allowing small operators and new entrants to acquire market share and operate profitably".
The NCC added that, "small operators and new entrants are hereby exempted from the price floor for data services”.
By midweek, Nigerians were up in arms against the federal government for "inflicting more pains on the citizenry in a recession".
Pulse has been working the phones to find out if the NCC directive received President Muhammadu Buhari’s blessings.
As head of the Economic management team and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) unit in the Presidency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should also have been in the know.
Aides of Buhari and Osinbajo told Pulse that their principals learned of the development from the media like everyone else.
All Presidency aides spoken to pleaded that their names be left out of this story.
"Neither the VP who is in charge of the economy nor the Minister for Budget and National Economic Planning have any knowledge of this data price increase", one top aide in the Presidency revealed, barely concealing his rage.
Another Presidency aide added that: "I suspect sabotage. NCC is sabotaging Buhari and all those in charge should go".
Craving anonymity, an aide in the Vice President’s office told Pulse that "the Presidency will find out from the NCC why it issued the directive to hike the cost of data. It is still too early in the day, but we’ll get in touch with the NCC and get back to you".
All Presidency sources were also confident that the NCC directive will be overturned as soon as possible.
The VP aide offered: "The VP is in charge of the economy and can veto NCC. Once that veto order is given, VP Office will release a statement indicating a stay has been ordered".
Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, also said he wasn’t consulted by the NCC before the commission went public with its plans.
The NCC is under the purview of the Minister.
"I want to say that I was not privy to it, I was not a party to it, the government never gave any such instruction", Shittu said during a RayPower Radio program monitored from our newsroom.
Shittu had added that: "There are reasons for what they have done, the reasons I’m sure will not be political, the reason will be more of logistics and all of that and as you have requested me to do I will do that.
"This government came into the democratic process and it has a duty to continue to protect the interest of Nigerians and I can assure you, we will do that and we will do the needful in protecting the rights and privileges of Nigerians".
Shittu also said his Ministry will continue to check the excesses of Telcos.
"About six months ago, I had cause to invite all the operators and virtually read the riot act to them. If that has not been done I can assure you it will be done, we are concerned about the interest of Nigerians.
"We are concerned that Nigerians should not be taken for a ride as the Minister of communications. I’m also a victim just like every other Nigerian. I also suffer the same fate as operators, so let me assure you that we will redouble our efforts to curtail the excesses of the telecom operators," he said.
Pulse also put calls across to members of the Senate Committee on Telecommunications. Prominent members of the committee denied any knowledge of the NCC directive.
Moments later, the Senate resolved to stop the tariff hike in its tracks.
"Senators in all totality condemned the increase of data Tariffs by the service providers…Senate now resolves to halt the new tariff approval".
Senate President Bukola Saraki said: "it is very important that we protect the people that brought us here. This is the height of irresponsibility by the NCC. At this time without any consultation…the increase, from the statistics is almost four times the price."
Nigerians have been raining insults and curses on the Buhari Presidency and the regulator since the proposed increase was made public.
NCC CEO, Danbatta, wasn’t immediately available for comments at the time of filing this story.
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