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Telcos To Begin Disconnection of Banks’ USSD Services Monday Over N42B Debt

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The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria has said telcos will disconnect Financial Service Providers from Unstructured Supplementary Service Data services from March 15 until they pay their over N42bn debt.

The association announced this in a statement titled “Withdrawal of USSD services to financial service providers due to huge indebtedness to telecom network operators”.

The statement was signed by ALTON and Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, and Head of Operations, Gbolahan Awonuga.

ALTON explained that the service withdrawal had become necessary due to the lack of agreement on a payment structure with the banks that did not involve the end-user being asked to pay.

It noted that following the issuance of the USSD pricing determination by the Nigerian Communications Commission which resulted in a price review of USSD service by the telcos, the banks decided that they would no longer pay for USSD service delivered to their customers and requested the telcos to charge customers directly for use of the USSD channel.

The telcos complained that the banks, however, provided no assurances that such service fees charged to customers’ bank accounts for access to bank services through the USSD channel would be discontinued post implementation of end-user billing by the telcos.

The statement said, “It has been more than eight months since the NCC issued an updated pricing methodology for USSD services for financial transactions in Nigeria.

 “The methodology explicitly restricts Mobile Network Operators from charging the end user for the services and mandates the banking sector to enter into negotiations to settle outstanding obligations and agree individual pricing mechanisms to be applied going forwards.

“During this time, MNOs have continued to provide access to USSD infrastructure and our members have continued to pay all bank charges and fees to access the banking industries assets and customers, despite the fact that obligations due from banks to telecoms companies for USSD services has reached over N42bn.”

The telecom operators said this was in consideration of millions of Nigerians who had become more reliant on accessing financial services through the USSD infrastructure due to COVID movement restrictions.

They noted that due to the inability of the banks to agree on a payment structure, the government had been forced to intervene to ensure a sustainable cost-sharing solution was agreed that did not disadvantage the consumer in the long-term.

The association said the removal of the service fees by the FSPs would have meant that if bank customers were charged only the USSD costs communicated by telcos per USSD session, bank customers would be paying far less than what they were currently being charged by the FSPs, which in some instances were as high as N50.

They added that both the banks and telcos would be applauded for collaborating towards the financial inclusion objectives of the Federal Government.

ALTON said, “We deeply regret that we have reached a point where the withdrawal of these services has become unavoidable. However, we remain committed to working closely with the relevant ministries and regulators to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

“To minimise the disruption to customers, and with the concurrence of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission on the huge debt to network operators; MNOs will disconnect debtor FSPs from USSD services until the huge debt is paid.

“Therefore, our members are initiating a phased process of withdrawal of USSD services, starting with the most significant debtors within the FSPs effective Monday March 15, 2021.”

They encouraged subscribers to explore alternative channels with their banks.

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Government

92.6 Million Nigerians Enrolled For the National Identification Number – NIMC

The Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stated that NIN will be a compulsory requirement for business registration. 

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National-eID-card

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has announced that 92.63 million Nigerians have enrolled for the National Identification Number as of November 2022.

This represents an increase of 1.9 million when compared to the 90.68 million recorded in October.

According to the recent data released by NIMC, more men have been captured than women. The data also revealed that men accounted for about 52.1 million people or 56 percent of the total people captured so far in the NIN database.

On the other hand, women represent 40.5 million or 44 percent of the total enrollment, Investors King learnt.

On a state-to-state basis,  Lagos State recorded the highest enrollment with about 10.3 million. This was followed by Kano State with more than 8 million people.

Other states with substantial enrollments include Kaduna with 5.4 million, Ogun with 3.8 million, Oyo with 3.6 million, FCT with 3.2 million, Katsina with 3.1 million, Rivers with 2.7 million, Delta with 2.4 million, and Bauchi with 2.4 million.

Meanwhile, Bayelsa is presently the state with the lowest enrollments.  A total of 583,323 have so far enrolled in the state. Ebonyi trailed Bayelsa with 744,869 and Ekiti’s record shows 971,712 enrollments. While Cross River, Taraba, Yobe, Enugu, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Zamfara followed with 1 million, 1.3 million, 1.3 million, 1.5 million, Imo 1.5 million, 1.5 million and 1.6 million, respectively.

In another development, the Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stated that NIN is now a compulsory requirement for business registration like it is with banks.

According to the Registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Garba Abubakar, NIN was adopted because its security can’t be compromised, unlike the National Identity card, passport, and driver’s license, which could easily be cloned.

“If you don’t have a NIN, it means you can’t register your company. The essence is to verify the integrity of the data we are collecting,” Garba noted.

National Identification Number is the unique number created by the Nigerian government to identify Nigerians, curb crimes, deepen infrastructure in cities and generally access all citizens.

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Governors Forum Replies FG, Blames Poverty on Rising Insecurity

The NGF accused the federal government of being unable to tame rising insecurity which has led to the high costs of food.

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Child Poverty - Investors King

The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF)  has stated that governors could not be blamed for poverty in their respective states. The NGF accused the federal government of being unable to tame rising insecurity which has led to the high costs of food.

Investors King could recall that President Muhammadu Buhari earlier alleged that governors are pocketing funds meant for the development of the local governments. 

Similarly, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, also stated that the 36 governors were responsible for the rising poverty index in the country,

According to the Governors Forum, the rising level of poverty among Nigerians was a consequence of the biting effect of insecurity on commercial and agricultural activities.

A statement released by NGF’s  Director of Media and Public Affairs, AbdulRazaque Bello-Barkindo said “It is important to put on record the progress made by state governors in the administration of their states, which have witnessed tremendous progress in recent times. Governors have undertaken projects where they, in conjunction with their people, deem them fit for purpose.

“This dereliction of duty from the centre is the main reason why people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activity and commerce. Today, rural areas are insecure, markets are unsafe, travel surety is improbable and life for the common people generally is harsh and brutish.”

Barkindo further accused the minister of deviating from the major issues and passing blames when he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, should be implementing policies that can ameliorate the hardship Nigerians were facing. 

Barkindo in the statement added that the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, an area he claimed the Federal Government has failed. 

“But the Federal Government, which is responsible for the security of lives and property, has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people, thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands,” he said. 

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President Buhari Accuses Governors of Stealing LG Funds

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Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has once again accused state governors of stealing monthly allocation due to local government under them.

The president spoke at a parley with members of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the president stated that it beats anyone’s imagination how some governors collected money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the council chairmen, who would further deplete the remittance by filching it. Investors King learnt. 

 ‘‘I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is a result of my personal experience. What they did, this is my personal experience, if the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman, but he will sign that he received N100m. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with,” the president narrated. 

‘‘This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who was doing this is not educated. He was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.” he queried. 

Furthermore, the president clarified that state governors and local government chairmen should be held responsible for the underdevelopment in the rural areas noting that most of the local governments lack basic amenities. 

Similarly, the National Union of Local Government Employees on Thursday backed the position of the president on the embezzlement and mismanagement of local government funds.

Responding to Buhari’s position, the  President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Hakeem Ambali, said Buhari was merely stating the obvious.

The NULGE President nevertheless admonished the president to go beyond the statement and ensure governors, especially those in APC to sign the local government autonomy bill into law.  

“He should go beyond that statement. He is the leader of the party, he should ask them to sign the autonomy into law; he is the leader of the governors,’’ he said.

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