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Are regulatory agencies—NCC, NERC, SON, et al revenue generating bodies?

By Micah Ugala

200

“WHEN WIND BLOWS”

Are our Regulatory Agencies in Nigeria, like the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) etc. meant to be revenue generating organizations, or Agencies of government, out to ensure the right things are done?

I asked because, I have noticed that some are more inclined towards revenue generation, than ensuring the right things are done.

To be specific, the NCC has shown from the very beginning of our GSM revolution in Nigeria back in 2001, that they’re more inclined towards making money, than making sure the network providers do the right things.

The NCC was able to make the network providers to pay for any GSM line, they gave out, but never thought about the security implications of letting people access to SIM cards without registration.

Which will ensure the proper identity of owners of SIM cards are gathered into a database, that could be used to ensure, nobody used the SIM cards to perpetrate crime, like we are currently witnessing, kidnappers using SIM cards to demand and negotiate for ransom and still conceal their identity.

The same SIM cards they used in extorting money from consumers in the beginning, they’re reallocating to other users, without the consent of the original owners.

The argument was, the SIM cards are not the property of the consumers, but why make consumers pay through their nose, so to speak for something they’re not going to have ownership of?

Now, the reallocating of people’s SIM cards, has caused and will continue to cause problems in the country.

A case where one Mr Anthony Okolie bought a new SIM card, register it and begins to use it, but that landed him in the DSS detention facility for ten weeks because they said Mr Anthony Okolie was in possession of a SIM card, originally belonging to one of the daughters of president Buhari.

He sued for the infringement of his fundamental Human Rights, and the Court awarded a Ten Million Naira damages against the DSS.

The latest development is, people who buy a reallocated SIM cards, are now receiving the financial transaction alerts of the original owners of the SIM cards, that ought to have been their confidential information.

This was put out on a live national Radio on human Rights Radio 101.1 FM here in the nation’s capital Abuja. And I’m sure, we all know the implications of that.

The same scenario has played out over the years in our electricity sector, where consumers have been made to pay for electricity poles, wires, transformers, meters etc. yet all the mentioned items are said to be the properties of the Distribution Companies (DisCos).

Instead of making sure the DisCos, that took over our Power Distribution Assets and Infrastructures, are capable of shouldering all the responsibilities required to distribute electricity, the NERC allowed the DisCos to be using estimated billings to extort money from consumers.

Even the meters that is the property of the DisCos, they’re making consumers to pay for the prepaid meters. In the guise that the consumers will be refunded through electricity consumption payments.

These are same people that never allowed the consumers to know, how they arrive at the estimated bills they keep bringing, whether or not they supply electricity.

Reason I asked, are our regulatory agencies out to make money, or to ensure, the right things are being done?

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