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Minister absolves self on data tariff controversy, says issue almost sorted out

The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu has once again distanced self form the recent uproar in data tariff hike that nearly marred end of last year, saying the matter is almost sorted out.

In an interview, the minister claimed that he was not part of the initiative as the issue was between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the companies even though he remains the supervising minister.

He said “When it happened, a lot of people accused me of taking money from these companies, so I have to explain the role I played and you would recall that the Senate because of the uproar that greeted the issue called stakeholders meeting.’’

The minister said that it was at that meeting that it became clear that what was said to be newly introduced had actually been the rate suspended years ago.

“The rate was agreed three years ago but perhaps because of uproar at the time it was suspended. The rate was 90 kobo and what is in operation now is 55kobo.

“And a lot of people out of mischief said that it was a 250 per cent increase but it was from 55 kobo to 90 kobo and if you don’t use it at all you don’t pay anything.’’

Shittu said it was after the Senate summoned all stakeholders and they provided facts and information that it became clear that data issue was on before it was later suspended.

According to him, the GSM companies said they were groaning under the burden of debt, that was why they needed the increase.

“The Senate understood that and said NCC and others ought to have engaged with members of the public and put all information in the public domain before announcing the increase,’’ Shittu revealed.

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