COMPEL NITEL TO BRING DOWN INTERNET COSTS, INTERSTELLA BOSS TELLS LAWMAKERS
THE National Assembly has been called upon to investigate an alleged plot masterminded by individuals within and outside NITEL, the nation's former sole national telecommunication carrier and by agents of PENTASCOPE to keep internet service costs above normal levels in the country.
Mr. Obi Barth Thompson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Interstellar Nigeria Limited, operators of the country's only registered internet exchange in a statement in Abuja while noting the national security implications emanating from recent efforts at throwing open the operation of internet exchanges in the country said it had become apparent that NITEL was openly disobeying presidential directives aimed at liberalizing pricing in the sector.
Alleging a plot within NITEL facilitated by its former management contractors, Pentascope to frustrate independent operations by private internet exchange operators even when funds were released to get access to Nigeria's underground cables in the custody of NITEL, the statement read:
"We came to this conclusion because other wise, it is difficult to understand NITEL"s logic for asking for annual fee of $6,000,000.00 for mere lease of 1STM1 full duplex, and for demanding $30million for full purchase; while Nigeria paid less than $4million for outright ownership of the same 1STM1."
"How can market forces be evoked to justify such a high price for a facility that is wasting? A commodity Nigeria bought for exactly $3,846,153.85 is lying idle and wasting; while NITEL tells Nigerians that it means well, by letting that investment continue to waste, against a background where the President of Nigeria, based on evaluation of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, had directed that the facility be made available for what is considered a strategic national project. The individuals in NITEL cover-up their present act of economic sabotage, by producing deceitful statistics to show that prices for SAT3 access are lower in Nigeria, than they are in South Africa and other West African countries. But they hide the fact that in South Africa and other countries, the SAT3 capacities purchased by those countries, are exhausted; while in Nigeria, over ninety percent of our national allocation is lying waste."
"The surrogates of this unknown interest group within the NITEL management are proactively facilitating the actualization of the scheme. Our suspicion is buttressed by facts betrayed by NITEL's recent media promotions, which confirm that NITEL never really intended, and never prepared to, actually operate such facilities.
"We know for certain that NITEL rejected the offer of free money, and yet went on to borrow money to execute a project, which, it had earlier said it had no capacity to undertake. Such act, if proven (and can be proven), certainly sabotaged an opportunity for inflow of foreign investment and technology to Nigeria.
"We strongly suspect that in all likeliness, the present effort to publicly advertise the projects are aimed at white-washing an act that was fraudulently conceived. If the Pentascope conduit had not been disconnected, it would have been a different story."
"What we find even more curious is the fact that some employees of NITEL believe they can flout or frustrate a Presidential directive, without consequence. They do so by contraption of ridiculous pricing schemes. Nigeria paid $50 million for 13 X STM1 capacity in the SAT 3 undersea cable. This puts the cost of one STM1 at exactly $3,846,153.85."