The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday warned Multichoice Nigeria not to dare Nigeria by going ahead to hike the tariffs of its products while the matter is yet being investigated.
Inaugurating a seven-member adhoc Committee of the Senate headed by the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, the Senate President warned that no foreign operators in the country should take Nigeria for granted.
Mr Lawan’s Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, in a statement on Tuesday, said the committee was set up by the Senate on Wednesday, against the backdrop of an announcement of tariff hike by the Multichoice pay TV service provider, DStv.
“No operator should take us for granted. We mean business. We want you to be here. Nigeria always provide the climate for you to do your businesses but don’t abuse the laws of our country.
“Our consumers here are people who are innocent and we are prepared to protect them.
“Meanwhile, stay action. No increase. No increase. And that is to say don’t dare our country. No increase in tariffs,” the Senate President warned.
Mr Lawan explained the rationale behind the setting up of the committee: “The reason for setting up this adhoc Committee is well known and this is in consistent with what we are supposed to do as members of parliament, as distinguished senators.
“When the legitimate interests of our people are threatened, we are supposed to ensure that we protect them.
“It has been the practice of many companies, especially foreign companies operating in Nigeria to treat the Nigerian consumers of their products in a different way and manner that is not consistent with global best practices.
“I’m not going to preempt the outcome of this investigation but one thing is clear, that the Senate is prepared to go all the way to unearth the exact situation that is happening with respect to how much Nigerian consumers of the DStv or Pay-TV tariffs are charged and how does that compare to other jurisdictions in other countries.
“DStv, one of the operators, has shown the tendency to increase the tariffs without due consultation with stakeholders and we feel this is not the right way to go about it and therefore we even need to find out whether or not what we are paying already is not out of the roof and different from what other countries are charged.
“So your task as a committee is to look at the issue very dispassionately with a very clear mind and focus on what we need to know.
“The Consumers Protection Council and other agencies of government and even NGOs and CSOs are supposed to attend this kind of investigation. We need to know what roles actually such government Institutions established for the purposes of protecting Nigerian consumers perform. What are their problems if they are not doing well.
“The report, at the end of the day, is supposed to be a report that will guide the Senate to take resolutions that will ensure that Nigerian consumers of the products, Pay-TV, are fully protected but at the same time that will not emasculate the businesses. We want to see a win-win situation for both consumers and operators.
“But let me be very clear at this point, we are going to take on any operators who decide to charge Nigerians tariffs that are not charged anywhere outside this country.
“I also want to add here that any operators, especially foreign, who doesn’t want to respect and obey our laws should leave. After all, it is only in this country that most of these operators behave the way they do, whether they are telecoms or DStv or whatever.
“In other climes, they do better. They respect the consumers. They respect the laws of the countries where they operate. It is only in Nigeria where they don’t give us any respect and I think we will take them on.
“I pray that they do the right thing so that they will not run into any trouble of fighting the injustice. What happened in the past should provide us lessons and issues that we should look at.
“In fact, if Nigerian consumers were extraordinarily cheated, they should be paid back. They do that in other countries. So I hope that all operators will cooperate with this committee. That when they are invited to appear before the committee they will appear.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said “the investigation into the activities of the Pay-TV service providers is long overdue as their activities, over time has reaped off Nigerians of their hard earned income.
“It is mind burgling that barely two years of the price hike by the Multichoice which was followed by a big uproar by Nigerians, comes another unexpected increment without proper consultation with critical stakeholders.
“This incessant hike in tariff without recourse to constituted authourities is a thing of great concern that calls for questioning.
“This investigation is an opportunity to right the wrongs and bring this service providers to operate within the confines of the law as obtainable outside the shores of the country.”