Are Nige­rian reg­u­la­tors tar­get­ing South African busi­nesses?

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

In what ap­peared like a sweep­ing storm, reg­u­la­tors in the Nige­rian space woke up from its epoch docil­ity in the face of mind-bog­gling cor­rup­tion, mis­man­age­ment and mis-gov­er­nance that have per­pet­u­ally kept Nige­ri­ans un­der the siege of want and penury. Our re­porters ex­am­ine the re­cent de­vel­op­ment.

It started with the Nige­rian Broadcasting Com­mis­sion (NBC) warn­ing to Mul­ti­chioce Nige­ria, the South African dig­i­tal satel­lite tele­vi­sion com­pany over planned trans­mis­sion of trans­gen­der pro­gramme on DSTV.

The NBC in a com­mend­able man­ner and in liv­ing up with its man­date to safe­guard Nige­rian air­waves and en­sure the peo­ples’ right to qual­ity broadcasting re­acted to the con­cern raised by some mem­bers of the pub­lic about al­leged plans by the TLC chan­nel on the DSTV to be­gin air­ing a pro­gramme, I am Jazz, the story of a trans­gen­der child.

The com­mis­sion spokesper­son, Awwalu Sal­ihu said; ‘The Com­mis­sion has since drawn the at­ten­tion of the ser­vice provider to this con­cern and has re­ceived firm as­sur­ances that they will in­ves­ti­gate, and if they con­firm that the pro­gramme is in­deed pro­mot­ing un­de­sir­able ideas that would of­fend the Nige­rian pub­lic, they would pull the plug on the pro­gramme.

An­other case that af­fects South African-based bankS­tan­bic IBTC was the sus­pen­sion of the Chair­man and the CEO of the bank early this week. Fol­low­ing the pe­ti­tions of mi­nor­ity share­hold­ers of Stan­bic IBTC Hold­ings Plc and the in­ves­ti­ga­tions that fol­lowed suit by the Financial Re­port­ing Coun­cil of Nige­ria (FRCN), the FRCN had on Mon­day an­nounced the sus­pen­sion of coun­cil reg­is­tra­tion of Stan­bic IBTC’s di­rec­tors. The di­rec­tors af­fected in­clude Atedo Peter­side, Sola David-Borha, Arthur Oginga and Daru Owei.

As a re­sult of this sus­pen­sion, the di­rec­tors will not be el­i­gi­ble to ap­prove financial state­ments of the group. This sus­pen­sion also ap­plies to one of the part­ners of KPMG, Ay­o­dele Othi­hiwa, the en­gage­ment part­ner in charge of the au­dit of Stan­bic IBTC Hold­ings Plc’s financial state­ments for the years ended 31st De­cem­ber 2013 and 2014.

It de­scribed the FRCN’s al­le­ga­tions as in­ac­cu­rate and un­for­tu­nate, and the man­ner in which it has cho­sen to make them is pro­ce­du­rally de­fec­tive.

Fur­ther­more, the Coun­cil or­dered di­rec­tors of the Stan­bic IBTC to with­draw the com­pany’s financial state­ment for the 2013 and 2014 financial year, in­sist­ing the state­ments was not pre­pared in line with the In­ter­na­tional Financial Re­port­ing Coun­cil (IFRS) and hence mis­lead­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the FRC, Stan­bic IBTC mis­re­ported its op­er­a­tions ex­penses, by con­ceal­ing vi­tal and ma­te­rial ex­penses un­der ‘Other Op­er­a­tional Ex­penses’.

An­other ma­jor line item un­der “Other Op­er­at­ing Ex­penses” was pro­vi­sion for con­tin­gent and other known losses of N972 mil­lion. In­cluded in this amount was an­other N340.8 mil­lion also de­scribed as “pro­vi­sion for lit­i­ga­tion”. The coun­cil is con­cerned that the group did not seem to have a sys­tem­atic method of rec­og­niz­ing and clas­si­fy­ing its ex­penses as sim­i­lar and re­lated items were found un­der sev­eral ex­pense cat­e­gories.

Within the same week, the Nige­ria Communications Com­mis­sion (NCC) sus­pended all reg­u­la­tory ser­vices to MTN Nige­ria un­til its pays the N1.04 tril­lion ($5.2 bil­lion) fine on Mon­day for flout­ing its direc­tive to de­ac­ti­vate 5.2 mil­lion in­com­plete sub­scriber iden­ti­fi­ca­tion mod­ule cards on its net­work,

Ac­cord­ing to an NCC doc­u­ment which cat­a­logued MTN’s nu­mer­ous in­frac­tions, the reg­u­la­tor de­cided to wield the big stick to beat MTN into line.

The com­bi­na­tions of th­ese three cases were seen by some anal­y­sis as a fresh bid of Nige­rian reg­u­la­tors to tar­get South African busi­ness in the coun­try.

There have been di­verse opin­ions by the share­hold­ers, while some are in sup­port of the reg­u­la­tors’ de­ci­sions oth­ers are op­pose to it.

Chair­man of Pro­gres­sive Share­hold­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (PSAN), Mr. Boni­face Okezie said his group has been in to­tal shock since Mon­day when the coun­cil took to the me­dia to make sev­eral ques­tion­able al­le­ga­tions against Stan­bic IBTC.

He said the de­vel­op­ment is not augur well for the growth of bank­ing sec­tor and the over­all growth of the econ­omy.

An­other share­holder who spoke with Daily Trust on the de­vel­op­ment said it is right de­ci­sion taken by FRC.

“If reg­u­la­tors were at alert then na­tion­al­ized those banks wouldn’t have been hap­pen.”

On the MTN side, an Abuja based lawyer, Bar­ris­ter Abubakar Sani has be­rated the NCC over the N1.4 tril­lion fine slammed on MTN Nige­ria, (the tele­coms industry reg­u­la­tor) over un­reg­is­tered sub­scribers on MTN net­work.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the fine is dis­pro­por­tion­ate to any of­fence MTN must have com­mit­ted. Ex­cept there a se­cu­rity breach can be es­tab­lished be­tween the un­reg­is­tered MAN lines.

He men­tioned that it was not MTN’s fault , adding that the NCC New DG over-re­acted be­cause MTN is a trail breezer.

How­ever, some an­a­lysts said the South African busi­nesses in Nige­ria for long have been tak­ing ad­van­tage of week reg­u­la­tions in Nige­rian En­vi­ron­ment and the cor­rup­tion in the sys­tem which al­low them to do what­ever they want and go free.

Mrs Yemisi Adeleke a pub­lic af­fairs com­men­ta­tor said the reg­u­la­tors should do their jobs in so far they are do­ing the right thing.

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