Telecom subscribers urged to enforce their rights

Telecom subscribers urged to enforce their rights

A leading voice in the legal field and an advocate in the telecommunications ecosystem, Ayoola Babatunde Oke, Managing Partner, Ayoola Babatunde Oke & Co, has called on telecom subscribers in the country to ensure they fight for their rights both with the service providers and regulatory agencies like Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The legal expert who stated this during a media chat in Lagos recently, said the quality of service and customer service can be better than what is obtained today, if the consumers are consistently demanding for their rights when shortchanged.

“You can imagine an instance where a subscriber had his or her airtime deducted unjustly. The subscriber hardly demands reason(s) for such a shortchange. Where they are supposed to be compensated, nothing is done. The simple reason is that they don’t demand for their rights. As much as they push the operators to be accountable to them, NCC can also be tasked to redress the consumers’ complaints. That is why NCC has initiatives such as Consumer Parliament and Town Hall forum.”

According to him, “The 2003 Nigeria Communication Act (NCA) has a robust place for any subscriber having any issue to seek redress. The difference between the NNC 1992 Act and the 2003 Communication Act is that, the former just wanted to establish a regulator, while the later wanted to establish a framework which is the most forward-looking regulatory law in Nigeria which is better than any other regulatory.

He however explained that some of the challenges being faced by the network operators are beyond their control.

According to him, “The telecom operators are often seen by governments at various levels as the major sources of their revenues without providing an enabling environment for them. This is evidenced in the controversial Right of Way (RoW) rates which some states have refused to adjust to N145 per linear metre while others who earlier agreed to the rate have reneged and even stated to impose new charges.

Another critical issue is power. All the telecom operators provide their power while using electricity as an alternative. You can imagine how much they spend in fueling their generators.”

The Nigerian Communications Act 2003 was a fantastic law, and if any was not done and if there were any lapses, it was not because of the law, but because of the Nigerian thing. It established a professional board, a governing board with executive power. These are the competencies: you need a sociologist, economist and you need an engineer. But since that first board is not following professionalism, meaning that all members of the board are engineers, except in some few cases where we had lawyers and administrators.

Oke stressed the need for a deliberate and effective implementation of rules and regulations guiding the telecom sector, especially the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 which, according to him, has been adjudged the best.

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