Association of Licensed Telecomms Operators of Nigeria has given the federal government a seven-day deadline on Tuesday to urge Kogi state to open some of their facilities that had been closed for many days.
The companies believe that if the facilities are not unlocked within seven days, they would be forced to take unspecified actions that will definitely affect the country’s corporate reputation.
This comes after the closure of some communications facilities and the kidnapping of telecom operating company staff, particularly in Kogi State.
ALTON stated that after the seven-day deadline, they would no longer be able to guarantee quality telecom services, which might damage all sectors of the economy, including security agencies.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of ALTON, told TECHLIFE at a press conference on Thursday at his office that recent developments in the telecom sector forced the declaration of the 7-day ultimatum, which requires immediate national attention.
This development, according to TECHLIFE, includes the seizure of cellular sites, which would have an impact on service quality in the FCT; high energy costs, which have opened the path for increased service costs; and the safety of telecom workers.
ALTON also voiced worry about telecommunications facilities being shut down in Kogi State due to disagreements about extraordinary taxes and levies imposed by the Kogi State Government through the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).
The KIRS action was based on an ex parte court order issued by the KIRS over baseless charges that “our members are in default of tax payments to the state government, which is not the reality, and access to these essential telecom sites has been restricted,” according to ALTON chairman.
He warned that this problem could result in a total communications outage in Kogi State and sections of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and the potential impact on service availability in sections of Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, and the Niger States. These are the states that Kogi State shares a border.
ALTON bemoaned that as a result of the Kogi State government’s actions, “our members are unable to refill the power generators nor perform any support or maintenance services in these sites, resulting in the outage of over 70 sites, including hub sites across Kogi State.”
According to him, the effects of these outages will gradually extend to the states stated above, and if no action is taken over the next few days, a total outage of telecommunication sites in all of these states will be catastrophic.
“We are quite afraid that this indiscriminate action may result in a comprehensive telecommunications outage in Kogi State, affecting adjacent states and sections of the Federal Capital Territory,” Adebayo added.
ALTON stated that its members had paid all statutory levies and taxes owed to the Kogi State Government and that they had taken all required precautions to comply with local laws governing business activity in Kogi State, as well as the abduction of telecom company employees in the domain.
We are concerned about the broader consequences of the KIRS’ decision as an industry and as citizens of this country.” We now appeal to His Excellency, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is leading the Presidential Enabling Business Council on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), to prevail on this issue the FCDA authorities and Kogi State Governor His Excellency, Yahaya Bello (a Presidential Aspirant) to bring his authority to bear on KIRS as soon as possible to prevent a total blackout in communications services in the FCT, Kogi, and by extension other neighbouring States of the Federation, which are now under threat due to the progressive degradation in service quality outages happening to our members capacity extension and seizure of base stations in Kogi State. On the high cost of energy and security of telecom workers, ALTON decried the rising cost of diesel and its implications on the generally high cost of business.
“We are concerned that unless there is an intervention to safe this sector, operators will have no choice than to begin a process of price review,” he said, stressing that the state of security on the country is of concern, in whole we commend all our security agencies for the work they do to keep us all safe, the impact of the general state of security on the country is that we are not able to provide 24/7 support in certain areas as it is unsafe to send out service personnel to some parts of the country and to other at certain times of the day,” the group said.
They enjoin the government to do a lot more to keep the nation safe and keep telecom workers safe. ALTON, he said, reaffirmed its commitment to work with the security agencies in order to support national security which now needs protection from sub-national government and agencies to stop the interference in smooth operations of telecom services