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Governors, MTN Partner to Halt Spread of COVID-19 with Data

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Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and MTN Nigeria have agreed to use the vulnerability model to drive a data-driven approach to stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Governors, MTN Partner to Halt Spread of COVID-19 with Data

Both have reiterated the importance of cancelling all deductions and deferring or restructuring all commercial debt service payments on the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-owned debts.

The agreement with MTN Nigeria was reached Sunday at the meeting held to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The approval was given by the governors after the Forum received a presentation from Mazen Mroue, chief operating officer and Olubayo Adekanmbi, chief transformation officer, MTN Nigeria, on the ongoing collaboration with the NGF Secretariat to profile States vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus based on parameters such as population age and density, travel history, location, income level.

In a communique signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, members also emphasized the necessity for stronger collaboration with States because they are best positioned to administer palliatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis, including the distribution of food and essential materials to households to help them cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods.

This was following a briefing from Boss Mustapha, secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on the activities of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which he chairs, the Forum having commended the SGF and his team for the commitment in leading a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forum expressed appreciation to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their pledge to support States increase their capacity to mitigate the spread of the virus and care for confirmed cases through the construction of isolation centres and the distribution of personal protective equipment to States. The governors stressed the need for CACOVID to work directly with the States in the distribution of palliatives.

Governors unanimously supported the unification of exchange rates into a single, market-determined window and the use of the market-determined exchange rate to calculate all revenues due to the federation.

The NGF Chairman had briefed state governors on ongoing coordination with the World Bank to mobilise support for States to mitigate the economic and social cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ongoing plans include accelerated disbursement of existing and new financing for States under the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results, and mitigation and recovery support for expenditures to protect livelihoods, support local economic activity and recovery over the next 18 months to 2 years.


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Aside RoW, Other Roadblocks Hobble Telcos

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Ekiti, Kaduna, Imo, Katsina and Plateau states recently blazed the trail by implementing right of way (RoW) resolution of resolution of the Governors’ Forum in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a digital economy for a digital Nigeria.

Aside RoW, Other Roadblocks Hobble Telcosn

Right of way charge of per meter of fiber optics cabling is considered one of the most vexatious and biggest hindrances to growth in the industry

It is however, disheartening that some states have decided to disregard these resolutions and have, in some cases, increased the RoW charges by over 1,200 percent.

Experts believe that if all states in the country can implement the resolutions, it will facilitate digital literacy and accelerate broadband penetration across the country and also improve Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Apart from implementing the resolution on RoW, regulatory authorities must draw from its political will to prevail on the states and local governments to stop insisting on collecting taxes and levies on operators’ infrastructures such as base stations and masts.

The canker worm of multiple taxes by local, state and federal governments and their agencies is threatening the survival of the telecom sector.

At last count, the industry estimate they pay over N20 billion annually to various agencies of government.

Also, the problem of insecurity, which has assumed alarming proportions, is discouraging further investments.

Added to this, are the constant harassment, intimidation and killing of workers in the industry while equipment are stolen every day.

Another major problem is the thorny issue of Nigeria’s public power supply, which seems to have defiled all known solution.

A situation where telecom operators spend an incredible N45.9 billion (approximately $2.9 Billion) annual bill on diesels in running power supply to their infrastructure is unacceptable.

Power supply is like the nerve, in fact, the engine of production. The near absence of public power supply has a devastating effect on businesses and has forced many companies to close shop because they could no longer remain competitive.

Regulatory authorities must find appropriate way to communicate to governments at all level that the current RoW, tax, public power as well as state of insecurity cannot create a knowledge driven economy or so called new economy in which the generation and the exploitation of knowledge play the major part in the creation of wealth.


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Why Office was Withdrawn from NiDCOM- NCC

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has, again, clarified that Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was never involved in the process of offer of office allocation to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) at the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex located at Mbora District, Abuja, as the public is being made to believe.

Why Office was Withdrawn from NiDCOM- NCC

The Commission reiterated this position in a press statement signed by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, director Public Affairs, in which it made further clarifications to the members of public and other stakeholders on the situation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, was never involved in the offer to the office space, nor in the withdrawal of the offer for same office space.  the Minister should not, therefore, be brought into the issue,” he said.

According to Dr. Nkemadu, the decision to withdraw the offer of office space from NiDCOM was purely of the NCC, the custodian of the office complex.

“It should, however, be made abundantly clear that the withdrawal of the offer of the office space, which was unconditionally given, in the first instance, to NiDCOM, was informed by exigencies and change in priorities within the NCC, which led to the taking back of the office space earlier allocated with intention of finding a suitable replacement for NiDCOM,” he said.

The Commission therefore reiterates its confidence in the leadership, person and office of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami


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MTN Nigeria Commences Payment of 2019 Company Income Tax Obligations

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MTN Nigeria has initiated payments for its 2019 Company Income Tax (CIT) obligations ahead of the statutory deadline of June 30th, in line with the request by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to corporate taxpayers whose operations are able to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of constructive engagements with its Board and Management, MTN Nigeria agreed to continue its existing practice of initiating early payment for its CIT obligations.

In this regard, it has committed to making full payment in a series of instalments ahead of the June 30th deadline. As a demonstration of this commitment, it has made payment of the first instalment.

FIRS would like to thank MTN for this demonstration of support for Nigeria during a time of significant disruption to the nation’s economy, and also to MTN’s own business.

FIRS Chairman, Muhammad Nami is particularly happy with this prompt response by MTN Nigeria and urges other companies to emulate MTN Nigeria so that together we shall continue to support the growth of Nigeria’s economy as well as business enterprises in the country.

Commenting on the agreement, Ferdinand Moolman, ceo, MTN Nigeria said: “We value the relationship that we have built with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and are pleased to be able to deepen that relationship by collaborating closely with the government and its agencies to manage the challenge that COVID-19 represents to the nation.

“Conscious of the role companies’ play in sustaining government revenue and services, MTN has consistently initiated payments towards our CIT obligations well ahead of statutory deadlines and despite prevailing conditions.

“This year, the Board of MTN Nigeria has once again approved advance payments towards our annual tax obligations.”


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