Are Nigerian regulators targeting South African businesses?
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.