The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to stop unsolicited messages and dropped calls by telecommunication service providers.

Shittu said unsolicited messages and dropped calls had become “a source of worry” to GSM subscribers.

He gave the directive when he met with NCC officials in Abuja on Wednesday.

“The truth is that Nigerian people are daily complaining, even me as the minister of communication; messages come which are unsolicited, a lot of times money is deducted.

“They ask you to press something if you want to discontinue and despite the fact that you discontinue, the next minute they are still charging you.

“This occurs every now and then. I think there is still a lot of work to be done on that.

“Dropped calls have become so pervasive; all over the place everybody experiences it.

“I think again we must do something to stop that because if we fail to do that, the Nigerian citizen will see us as having failed in protecting their interests. These are things we must do.

The minister also urged the commission to do all it could to support important government institutions that needed its services while commending its achievements in the sector.

Shittu stressed the need for the NCC to create jobs and alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians, saying “there is so much poverty in our land.’’

“We must evolve measures to bring about job creation even outside our daily mandate and as minister of communication, I want to assure you that any initiative that is geared towards poverty alleviation and job creation, you have my support.

He also directed the Commission to monitor the discharge of corporate social responsibility by the telecommunication service providers.

Shittu noted that telecommunoications companies were not remitting to government’s coffers what was due to government, saying evidences abound in the relevant documents submitted to his ministry.

“Again it is a very important thing that we have to look at, because even if oil prices have not gone down, Nigeria needs every resource that we can get to take care of the interests of Nigerians.

“That huge gap can only be filled by NCC and ICT generally.

“So I want you to look into this; if possible we should engage professionals who feel that they can do a lot to really unveil what they believe is operators short-changing customers.’’

In his remarks, the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta, assured the minister that the commission would not relent in enforcing standards in the telecommunications sector.

He said the Commission was doing its best to ensure that incidents of dropped calls and unsolicited messages were stopped by appropriate measures.

“On unsolicited text messages, one important regulatory measure we have already put in place is that, from July 20, all text messages must have a “Do not disturb’’ proviso and then consumers can opt into this.

“This is going to apply to all consumers if this is not adhered to, there will be consequences and the fine is about N10 million for non-adherence.’’

The NCC boss identified inadequate electricity supply as one of challenges facing the telecommunication sector and called for improved power supply.

He also identified another challenge in the sector as “the right of way” and “indiscriminate taxes.”

“You find that state, local and Federal Governments charging different extremely high rates and in some instances you find even area boys forcibly subjecting operators to tax payment, and it is a menace.

“My appeal is that the minister should work hand-inhand with the commission to ensure adherence to the provision of the National Economic Council (NEC) on the resolution on the right of way which stipulated the taxes to be charged.’’

Author: Cerebral Lemon