Tariff rates aggravate corruption and poverty in Nigeria

ITU_toure_itu_1.jpgFormer General Manager of Nigeria’s national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), Solomon Ogundele has written a letter to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré, protesting what he saw as unbridled corruption in the country’s telecommunication market.

The letter, copied to the Secretary-general of the United Nations and the president of Nigeria, says the origin of the corruption in the sector is the tariff rate which does not take account of the ITU’s recommendation that Nigeria is a signatory.

Ogundele alleged that these were deliberately ignored as dictated by bribery and corruption in the system.

“The human rights of Nigerians to decent livelihood have also been violated with the deliberate aggravation of poverty in Nigeria by extortionist telecommunications tariff established by Nigeria Communication Commission to satisfy the greed of NCC officials and service providers and a distorted Telecommunication Market where the First National Carrier was used as a source of FREE (Stolen) CAPITAL for other Telecommunications Operators to raise laundered funds through false accounting by a deliberately fraudulent Interconnection Agreement”, he wrote.

According to Ogundele, it is only in Nigeria that the Dominant Operator and the Country’s First National Carrier for decades before deregulation, NITEL, became bankrupt within six years of the licensing of GSM operators.

He argued that this situation should have attracted the attention of the ITU because the ITU nurtured NITEL for decades during which period he was a Trainee Fellow of the ITU.

His words: “The simple truth about NITEL’s financial collapse is that the Regulator introduced deliberately fraudulent Interconnection Agreement which resulted in false accounting and deliberate laundering of NITEL funds and Capital to Private Telecommunications Operators.”

Quoting section 108 subsection (4) (e) of The Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, he averred that the NCC is bound to comply with ITU-T D Series Recommendations on General tariff principles and the Blue Book for the Interconnection of different Networks in Nigeria. He said that the failure to follow this principle was caused by corruption which subsequently led to the NCC abandoning ITU-T Recommendations on Tariffs and introducing fraudulent and subjective methods.

Ogundele further argued that the claim of 12.5 billion US Dollars investment in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector by the NCC is grossly misleading.

“A Forensic Financial Audit will show that 35% to 45% of foreign investment is actually recycled NITEL funds”, he said.

By Nedu Walters