Lagos Commercial Bus Drivers Begin Seven-Day Strike
The Joint Drivers’ Welfare Association of Nigeria has said it will commence its seven-day strike in Lagos State on Monday as it was unable to reach an agreement with the state government.
The group, in a statement by its lawyer, Ayo Ademiluyi, said it had been subjected to indiscriminate extortion and violent harassment by the management of parks and garages in the state.
The statement read in part, “As commercial drivers in Lagos State under the aegis of JDWAN, we are left with no choice than to embark on seven days of protest and boycott of services over multiple and excessive extortions by the management of parks and garages in the state.
“We have notified members of the public and the Lagos State Government over multiple and excessive extortions by the motor parks and garages management.
“The cost of transportation affects the cost of goods and services and consequently the cost of living, which has spiralled astronomically in Lagos State as a result of the effect of motor parks excessive and illegal ticketing and tolling at almost every bus stop.”
The group alleged that its members lost half of their income to motor park ticketing, stating that they got arrested whenever they refused to pay for the tickets.
The group said, “No to charging drivers three passengers money after loading in parks or garages; we kick against paying motor park thugs at every bus stop; harassment of law enforcement agencies & intimidation with guns, cutlasses, broken bottles by LASTMA, task force and RRS must end immediately; we demand that the Lagos State Government should provide official bus stops in each community to avoid incessant arrests and stress for commuters who complain of having to trek several kilometres back to their bus stops.”
Federal Government Agrees With Supreme Court Naira Ban Extension
The Federal Government has resolved to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court suspending the February 10 deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN on the exchange of old Naira notes.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, confirmed the development in an interview with Arise News on Thursday evening.
However, he said that the decision of the government to obey the Supreme Court order on the naira deadline was upon the administration’s inclination to the rule of law.
Also, The Anambra State police Command Police has warned against any act of violence and protest in the state following the unavailability of the new bank notes in the state.
This is even as customers had accused the banks in the state of hording the new bank notes, partnering with point-of-sale (POS ) operators and selling the naira to them at exorbitant price.
Sources alleged that banks sell the new naira notes at N2000 for N 10000 while POS operators sell the new notes at a price of N5000 customers who wanted a cash withdrawal of N10 000 only while no fees were said to be charged when withdrawing by ATM where the new naira notes were unavailable, a thing that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele had warned against.
In a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO ), DSP Ikenga Tochukwu titled ‘Scarcity of New Naira notes: Anambra State Police Command Uncovers Plan of Protest’ and made available to journalists in Anambra , Thursday, February 8, 2023 through the Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, the command warned against any form of protests in the state, saying it has uncovered plans by some groups to conduct protests in some parts of the state in connection with the new naira notes.
The police warned ‘mischief makers to desist from it’ saying the6 ‘police had ensured the optimal deployment of human and operational resources towards guaranteeing safety and security in the state’.
“Anambra State Police Command today 8/2/2023 has uncovered plans by some groups of persons to take advantage of the new Naira notes scarcity to unleash violence in some parts of the State. The Command has described the scarcity as not peculiar to Anambra State alone and noted that the Federal Government is doing everything possible to address the situation.
“The Command hereby warns these groups/persons to shelve their planned violence or have the full weight of the law to contend with. The Police, in conjunction with other security agencies, have embarked on confidence-building patrols and ensure the optimal deployment of human and operational resources towards guaranteeing safety and security in the State.
“The Command, therefore, enjoined Anambrains and residents alike not to panic and urge the law-abiding residents/visitors of the state to go about their lawful duties without any fear of harassment or intimidation. In the event to request security services call us on 07039194332 or PRO 08039334002 for a prompt response. The ‘npf rescue me app’ is also available for free download on both Android and Apple IOS, for Android and iPhone users respectively”.
Nigeria’s Telecoms Subscribers Hit 214 Million
The number of active telecommunication subscribers hit 214.35 million in October, according to new industry statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
This is the highest number of recorded telecoms subscribers in the nation since the total number of subscribers peaked at 207.58 million in October 2020, months before the SIM-NIN linkage.
On what has driven subscriber growth in 2022, telcos disclosed that more subscribers were getting new SIMs in a bid to circumvent restrictions on SIMs that had not been linked with their National Identification Numbers.
In MTN’s third quarter release, its Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, said, “As a result, the average daily gross connection was 48.1 per cent above the pre-directive level, partly driven by the cohort of subscribers who were initially restricted and opted to register new SIMs.
“Combined with increased usage from the existing base, these have supported an acceleration in the service revenue growth recovery and mitigated the impact of churn on the base.”
The consistent growth witnessed in the number of telecoms subscribers in 2022 aligns with GSMA’s growth prediction for the industry.
According to the global industry’s association, Nigeria has a sizeable number of its population under the age of 18, indicating that its subscriber growth would remain strong for the foreseeable future as more young consumers crossed into adulthood and subscribed to mobile services.
GSMA expects 18 million new Nigerians to become unique telecoms subscribers by 2025. Mobile connectivity is at the core of connectivity in Nigeria, with the majority of online services accessed through mobile channels in the nation.
GSMA believes that mobile connectivity is set to play a crucial role in defining the new normal in the nation. It said, “In 2021, mobile technologies and services generated around 8 per cent of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa, a contribution that amounted to almost $140bn of economic value added.
“The mobile ecosystem also supported more than 3.2 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $16bn raised through taxes on the sector. By 2025, mobile’s contribution will grow by $65bn (to almost $155bn), as the countries in the region increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services.”
Despite this growth, about 31.6 million Nigerians live in areas without telecoms coverage, according to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The ministry stated that the absence of such coverage had enabled criminal activities and insecurity in these unserved areas.
MTN, Airtel Bar 9.7 Million Subscribers
Two telecommunication companies have reported that 9.7 million of their subscribers are still barred from making outgoing calls despite submitting their National Identification Numbers for verification.
The telcos, MTN and Airtel, disclosed in their recent earnings report that 16.2 million subscribers who had their lines barred have submitted their NINs for verification but only 6.5 million had been verified as of September 30, 2022.
In April, over 72.77 million GSM lines were barred from making calls on their SIMs, following a directive from the Federal Government as regards subscribers that had not linked their SIMs and NINs.
It said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), “has approved the implementation of the policy with effect from April 4, 2022. Consequently, the Federal Government has directed all telcos to strictly enforce the policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria.
“Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage policy from April 4, 2022.”
According to MTN and Airtel 19 million and 13.6 million subscribers respectively were affected by the ban. The telcos further stated that the implementation of the policy has affected their revenue.
Airtel said, “In April 2022, the voice services for 13.6 million customers were barred due to non-submission of NIN information.
“As of September 2022, 5.7 million customers (42 per cent) have subsequently submitted their NINs and 2.7 million customers (20 per cent) have been fully verified and unbarred. Revenue growth for the first half of the year was impacted by the effect of barring outgoing voice calls in Nigeria for those customers who had not submitted their NINs.