By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA – As anxiety continues to mount over the proposed change of name by Etisalat Nigeria, the industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC has vowed to protect the company from possible collapse in its operations.
The Commission allayed the fear on Tuesday during the 80th edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, TCP held at Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Dambatta gave the assurance while delivering his opening address at the event.
Prof. Dambatta, who was represented by Mr. Sunday Dare, said the Commission wasn’t unaware of the current challenge facing Etisalat Nigeria following the recent report about its mother company withdrawal from Nigerian market but had waded into the matter to save the jobs of the staff and interest of the 21 million subscribers at stake.
The EVC said though the Commission never anticipated the crisis would befall Etisalat, it was resolute in ensuring that it does not jeopardize the interest of the consumers.
‘‘This year 2017 is a year of the consumer. We never anticipated the challenge Etisalat is currently facing and because of the lives of the 21 million consumers at stake, NCC and the CBN came in to intervene.
‘‘As I speak, Etisalat is still running, despite the proposed plan to change the name. In spite of the challenges, we have kept it running for the sake of the consumers. I can assure you that no single staff of Etisalat has been fired, we will make sure all of them are protected and the services not disrupted.’’
Also speaking on the matter, the Director, Consumer Care at Etisalat, Mr. Plato Syrimis, also dismissed the fear of the staff and subscriber of Etisalat, saying that the change of name would have no impact on the operation and service delivery of the company, insisting that no consumer would lose his line.
‘‘Don’t expect any dare consequences because of the proposed change of name. The truth is that Etisalat has been operating from the Middle East shareholder until it pulled out of Nigeria two weeks ago.
‘‘We have been operating and still running. That will not affect our services. It is unfortunate that this happened but will not affect the market, which had been in operation for many years.
‘‘Airtel changed name six times and that did not make it lose its market, that is what is expected to happen in Etisalat. It is only the brand name that is going to change, all our services , innovations, staff are not going to be lost. You are not going to wake up one day and lose your line.
‘‘What is happening for the past 24 hours is not going to affect Etsalat services, what happened two weeks ago is only going to affect the brand name, that is what is likely to change, if it does change. The name on the door will change but the services, innovation, customer focus, customer services will always be there,’’ he further explained.
On the TCP, the EVC said the event was unique and remarkable because the Commission had decided to celebrate the consumer of the Nigerian telecom industry this year in consistent with the 8 Point Agenda of his administration.
He commended the consumers for consistently spending a significant portion of their disposable income on telecommunication services, even as it continues to improve the quality of life, businesses and social engagements.
In recognition of the consumers’ contribution to the industry, Dambatta promised to strive further in ensuring improved quality of service, ubiquitous and affordable services to the consumers.
He also assured that the Commission would entrench a consumer-centric regulatory governance and policy administration and also ensure consumer information flow and education as well as ensure consumer satisfaction by supporting better access to life changing and improvement opportunities and social engagement.
‘‘We are however grateful to consumers for responding positively to the telecommunications revolution. It is really the investment of the consumer through patronage of services that has encouraged build out and supported services provision. There is need to celebrate and recognize the consumer as the Boss of the industry and as Boss he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
‘‘The Commission has taken steps to ensure that the telecommunications sector remain vibrant and has carried out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry are healthy. Where necessary, NCC has made interventions to prevent disruptions to consumer experience,’’ he added.