By Martin Ekpeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission yesterday insisted that the Code of Corporate Governance for the Nigerian telecom industry, which has to do with standard, transparency, accountability and the general internal affairs of telecom companies in the country has come to stay.
Speaking at a Media Chat in Lagos, the Nigerian telecommunications regulator stressed that Code of Corporate Governance is a global best practice for the interest of telecom investments, especially Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), put at $68 billion.
The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders’ Management, Mr. Sunday Dare who spoke on behalf of the Code of Corporate Governance Committee argued that going by the huge investment the telecom industry has attracted, it is just wise to operate a standard that would ensure sustainability. Thus, the code is no longer voluntary, but mandatory for telcos.
“At NCC, we are insisting and putting down our foot that the Code of Corporate Governance, which has to do with standard, transparency, accountability and the general internal affairs of the company is important to us. And this must be done in line with best practices,” Dare submitted.
He admitted that the drift that resulted in Etisalat’s rebranding to 9Mobile would have been tamed if the telecom company had held strictly to the industry Code of Corporate Governance, noting that the aim of the code is to ensure that the telecom industry is well structured so that investment will not be jeopardized.
“Nigeria is a country that is still wooing foreign investors, if the would-be investors perceive that the local companies are not well structured, they will definitely take their money elsewhere,” Dare argued further.
The Code of Corporate Governance, amongst other things, stipulates that the Director of a telecom company cannot serve for more than 15 years. No other code gives that latitude. It also defines sanctions for issues of delayed text message delivery, call masking, drop calls, forced subscriptions, bogus promises and unkempt agreements, to mention a few. It is all in the interest of the subscriber.
Asked where it derives the power to enforce the code, NCC said it draws its power from the 2003 Nigeria Communication Act, Sections 1 (1d) and 4(1a) which empowers it to regulate and ensure investments are secure, with investors having a level playing field.