Obono-Obla writes Tinubu, mobilizes public petitions against alleged MTN, Multichoice exploitative services
By Akpan David, Calabar
A former presidential aide, Obol Okoi Obono-Obla has submitted a petition to President Bola Tinubu over what he termed exploitative, criminal and very poor services by two South African firms, Multichoice Nigeria Ltd and Mobile Telephone Network (MTN).
In the letter dated 6 November 2023, the activist and lawyer prayed the president to invoke the power vested in him by the provisions of Section 40 (4) of FCCPC and constitute the Consumers Protection and Competition Tribunal.
He said that Tribunal will go a long way in protecting consumers’ rights, and preventing cartelization, restrictive and unfair business practices, monopolization, and other anti-competition behaviors by service providers and companies which are hiking prices, limiting customers’ options and stifling competition and innovation in the Nigerian economy.
He said the invocation by the President will save Nigerians from wicked exploitation by the two firms and others.
He has set about mobilizing public online petitions as well as from the similarly aggrieved Nigerian consumers against Multichoice over another announcement of a second price increase for its packages this year, with hikes of at least 19% across all bouquets.
He said the new prices set to take effect on November 6, 2023, has come just five months after its last price upward review.
Obono-Obla has also issued public statements denouncing their monopolistic tendencies and restrictive and unfair trade practices.
He said the two firms are oppressing Nigerian consumers which heavily patronize them.
He recalled that since January 2023 Multichoice has astronomically and arbitrarily increased its tariffs in the country three times even when subsidy had not been removed.
Reacting, Customer desk of Multichoice merely said that the harsh economic climate in the country in recent times necessitated the increase in their tariffs.
Obono-Obla also stated that MTN has also earned the notoriety over the years for its erratic services, exploitation, cheating, and short-hanging of Nigerian subscribers.
“A typical example is in its data services. MTN will sell data to you for maybe N10,000 for thirty days, which you end up using only for seven days and exhausted in breach of the terms of the contract between you and MTN,” he said.
Bemoaning the services if Multichoice, he said they cannot justify the increases under any guise since the beginning of this year.
“The latest increase of 17% by Multichoice is most oppressive, unfair, and unreasonable to say the least.
“The tenets of the free market philosophy frown upon monopolistic, restrictive, and unfair trade practices.
“The monopoly they enjoy in the country undermines the freedom of the Nigerian market, innovation, and competition which are key to the growth of the economy.
“More importantly Multichoice is exploitative and wicked. If you load your decoder for a month and you happen to travel out for one month and hence don’t watch TV, multi-choice would still charge or bill you,” the petition stressed.
Worried that both firms are unfair to Nigerian consumers, he asked why is Multichoice not practicing the pay-as-you-go billing system which applies to other countries, including South Africa.
Obono-Obla said Nigerians are groaning and bleeding under the yoke of service providers whether in the telecommunications, electricity, manufacturing, or pharmaceutical sectors.
According to him, the service providers do not have a modicum of respect for consumers in Nigeria, and appear to forget easily that consumers have their rights conferred on them by law which has to be protected.
He hinted that since Nigerian consumers can no longer condone the erratic and exploitative services of the telecoms firms, in conjunction with some well-meaning Nigerians, an NGO to promote, preserve, and defend the rights and interests of Nigerian consumers, is to be floated.
He called the regulators created by law in Nigeria to regulate the economy to bring these organizations to account for acts.
He also called on Nigerians to rise and hold these shylock service providers accountable.
– Apex News Exclusive.