The recent attempt by MTN to bully Globacom into paying it a bogus claim of N7.05 billion interconnect fees has left many wondering why the South African firm is courageous enough to pursue such underhand tactics.
While MTN had slammed a whopping sum of over N7.05 billion on Globacom, covering interconnect charges of N1.6 billion (which was already paid before the controversial publication), VAT of N1.7 billion allegedly paid on behalf of GLOBACOM and a compounded interest of N3.6 billion, which Globacom considered preposterous since it is the absolute prerogative of companies to pay its own interests and never through proxies.
According to authoritative industry sources, after the two parties sat down for due diligence with NCC officials in Lagos, it was clearly established that contrary to the MTN insistence on claiming the earlier published N7.05 billion, the amount Globacom was supposed to pay MTN was actually only N2.3 billion. So why was MTN trying to force through a false claim of N7.05 billion?
Could it be that it is being emboldened by the fact that its current Chairman, Ernest Ndukwe, used to be the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecommunications industry regulator?
There is also the fact that one of its directors, Omobola Johnson, was the supervising minister of the industry as Communications Minister between 2011 and 2015.
Ndukwe joined the Board of MTN in June 2018 as a Non Executive Director, and became its Chairman in July 2019. This was barely 8 years after he retired as EVC of NCC. His staff including those he employed when he was at NCC are still there at the commission.
Omobola Johnson was Minister of Information and Communications between 2011 and 2015. In September 2019, She joined MTN as a board member, just 8 years after leaving office as minister.
In the banking industry, a former director or governor of the Central Bank cannot join the board of a bank in Nigeria until after 10 years. This is intended to ensure that the bank does not enjoy undue advantage or influence within the corridors of the apex bank. This should also be the case in the telecoms industry to ensure no operator gains undue advantage or influence.
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