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What can be easily seen by followers of the endless sale of troubled 9mobile, formally Etisalat Nigeria as new twist is the latest decision of the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Otherwise, whereas the board reassures industry stakeholders of its commitment to ensure that the nation’s fourth largest Mobile Network Operator (MNO), EMTS/9Mobile, is duly taken over by investors with the requisite technical capability and pedigree to manage the organization, pundits are worried on why the assurance is coming now, the bidding process is almost over.
Few weeks ago, there where clear signal that Teleology Holdings Limited had emerged winners, but the endless wait for the official announcement is currently weakening public confidence on the entire process.
Experts say the sudden reassurance of the NCC board seems to be coming at a wrong time which tends to show that the agency may have not been abreast with all that had been happening in the bidding process for 9mobile.
A telecoms investor who spoke to Business Hilights on the outcome of the NCC board meeting of Thursday, February 22, 2018, said “For the board to come out now everybody is waiting for the naming of the new owners of 9mobile after all checks and rigorous process had been completed by the handling consultant means that a lot is not made public on the entire sale process”.
“I also learnt that the CBN is to conduct a separate financial check on the winner of the 9mobile auction while the Nigerian Communications Commission will focus on the buyer’s ability to provide quality service.
Continuing, the expert who pleaded anonymity queried why both agencies are now coming out to begin fresh stress test which ordinarily ought to have been completed by the sales agent.
According to him, “For the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, to tell Bloomberg in Kano last week that the upcoming checks are to ensure the survival of 9mobile and prevent a repeat of what happened, means that it has no confidence on Barclays Africa, the appointed sale adviser.
In a statement issued weekend by the Director Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo the Board affirmed its determination to avoid the recurrence of any missteps that may have led to the current situation.
The Board also made it clear that pursuant to the powers conferred on the Commission by the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and other instruments in that regard, the Commission will ensure that all relevant statutory and regulatory processes are duly complied with in the process leading up to the emergence of new owners for the company.
The Board therefore assured all Stakeholders that the Commission will apply all necessary diligence to see the ongoing sale process through to its logical conclusion in a manner that protects the overall national interest and the seamless operation of the national telecommunications network.
For more than three weeks now, there had been strong speculations that Teleology Holdings linked to the pioneer chief operating officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Adrian wood whose financial bid was higher to that of Smile Communications is the preferred bidder, but no official announcement has been made to that effect, thus raising issues of credibility and investors’ confidence in the industry.