Subscribers seek end to 9Mobile woes
News broke out last week about Teleology Holdings, the preferred bidder, pulling out of 9Mobile deals following some internal wranglings.
There had been accusations and counter accusations from both Teleology Holdings and the local arm on the way and manner the firm should run.
But subscribers and industry experts, who spoke with The Guardian, want the matter resolved as fast as possible.
The Guardian checks showed that 9Mobile, which currently controls about 9.10 per cent market share, services 15.3 million subscribers, had since the issue brewed up in 2017 lost close to five million subscribers.
A subscriber, who gave his name as Barrister Chukwu Kingsley, in an interview with The Guardian, said the earlier the issue is resolved the better for the company and its subscribers.
“I have been following the firm since the problem started early 2017, with the pull out of Etisalat and I think they have lost millions of subscribers. They have started again! The matter should be resolved amicably, if not, more subscribers would leave the network.”
Coming from the perspective of poor services, Shola Adekoya urged parties at logger heads to sheath their swords and resolve whatever the issue may be as fast as possible.
“This problem is long overdue; the matter of 9Mobile should be resolved once and for all for the betterment of the company. The good quality of service we know Etisalat with is no more there, customer service has become an issue, they have lost and they are still losing customers. I think something should be done very fast.”
The President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, urged the parties to consider the subscribers and investments that may be affected if the firm should go down.
Ogunbanjo said having scaled through the hurdles of Etisalat, the coming in of Teleology should drive the company forward, “though and normal, change doesn’t come easy, but parties involved in this matter should resolve issues amicably.”
He appealed to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to step into the matter and help resolve the issue.
Speaking on the matter, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON),, Olusola Teniola, noted that the most likely scenario is for 9Mobile to review and rearrange a partnership with a technical partner if it will fulfill its ability to execute on the chosen strategy, “otherwise, they need to seek expert hands that have already been tried and tested in the industry that can act as the global face/interface to other stakeholders that will complete the business management piece. The highest priority and focus for the board and local manacement team is securing sufficient capital to fund the stability, growth and competitiveness of the business.
“Frankly, government, through the NCC, and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have done all they can do by facilitating a successful sale of EMTS operating as 9Mobile to the new owners, Teleology. It is really up to Teleology to make this a success. Government has performed in this context.”
In line with what Teniola said, his counterpact at the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, also believed that the regulators had done enough to keep the company from imminent collapse, “I won’t solicit for the intervention of NCC or CBN now. I think that time has gone; they have done their part, atleast saving the firm from collapse. It is now time for the industry as a whole to join hands together to move the firm forward.”
Adebayo does not think the current issue is a challenge, saying that the firm has crossed the major hudlle, which was crossing from Etisalat to 9Mobile, “that pull out was very severe on the firm, but the intervention of the industry restored confidence.
“ current challenge is an internal one, which can be resolved amicably. The best thing now is for the industry to rally them and give them the needed support to scale through the present predicament. As stakeholders, we should start providing them the necessary support because; the organisation is a critical part of our national network; they have to some extent helped to reduce pressure on the labour market; they are integral part of the ALTON. I am optimistic that since it is an internal issue, it will be resolved amicably in no time.”
Already, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, has assured of amicable resolution of the issue.
Danbatta explained that although the issue between Teleology Holdings, and Teleology Nigeria, was yet to reach the NCC for mediation, he, however said proactive steps had been taken by the Commission, in line with its regulatory mandate to avert destabilisation of the telecoms industry.
Danbatta said the commission had already made some moves to address the situation in the interest of 9mobile subscribers and the telecoms industry.
“The bone of contention is between Teleology Holdings Limited, and Teleology Nigeria, over some disagreements, but as a regulator that is both customer and investor-centric, we have set up some measures to resolve the issue between the two parties.
“We need stability in the telecoms industry and we will do everything possible to protect the interest of both the 9mobile subscribers and its investors and ensure there is no disruption of services,” Danbatta said.
Teleology Holdings Limited, in a statement, had alleged that Teleology Nigeria Limited had declined to execute a management services contract with the former, which led to its pulling out of the deal last week.
According to the statement, “Such a management contract is the typical arrangement with which multinationals operate in Nigeria and is the template with which EMTS engaged Etisalat prior to its (Etisalat) departure.
“It is the same template with which Bharti Airtel is engaged with its local joint venture, Airtel Nigeria and with which MTN Group of South Africa is engaged with its local joint venture, MTN Nigeria.”
“It is on the basis of such management agreements that such multinationals are legally able to impact on the operations of the local operator including sourcing of relevant expertise and financing as well as paying dividends to offshore shareholders.”
Teleology Nigeria had also in a statement, accused Teleology Holdings of not meeting its obligations in the entire 9mobile acquisition process.
The statement had said Teleology Holdings failed to meet its obligations in the entire acquisition process of 9mobile, even though it owned a minority stake in Teleology Nigeria Limited.
“It failed severally and wholly to meet their obligations. Its founder, Adrian Wood was not personally present for all the critical presentations made by the consortium during the bid process and failed abjectly with his financing arrangements with Swiss-based UBS Bank.
“In all these failings, other partners in the consortium filled the gap and pushed ahead until the sale was completed,” the statement added.