When news broke last week that the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), had vetoed the Management’s recent decision to increase some voice/data tariffs by 10 percent, it came as a huge relief to millions of Nigerians who are already having a rough time grappling with so much financial stress and economic challenges.
It came with a renewal of hope that there can still be leadership with empathy in certain circles in the country. The general situation is that of a wide gulf of inequality between the leaders and the led which makes the elites unable to relate with the feelings and pains of the common man.
The statement put out by the Commission stated amongst other things, “the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has maintained that his priority is to protect the citizens and ensure justice to all stakeholders involved. As such, anything that will bring more hardship at this critical time will not be accepted.” That is an excellent reaction to an accurate gauge of the citizen’s mood right there!
For many organisations, it has become standard practice, kind of, that once the Management agrees to a course of action, the Board just signs off on it without carrying out its own impact assessment or due diligence on its merits or demerits to the stakeholders and the larger society. In fact this tendency was pungently underscored by the fact that the network service providers had gone ahead to implement the new rates as approved by the Management without waiting for the Board’s ratification.
The attitude or inclination of supervising or oversight authorities to just swim with the agency or management’s tide is the reason in many cases why our nation reels under the weight of misgovernance and there is so much latitude for impropriety and mindless looting of the common patrimony as is evident in many sectors across the land. Certainly it will serve little or no useful purpose for the Board and Management teams of public institutions to constantly work at cross purposes or regularly be at each other’s throats. However, it is also not in the public interest when they join forces together to undermine their mandates or tailor it to suit their private interests at the expense of the larger citizenry.
By this action, the Board has sent a strong signal to the entire sector that it cannot be sidelined or pocketed and that the decision making process of the regulator must always be followed to its due logical conclusion before implementation. Furthermore, it is reassuring to the public that whatever policies or decisions are made by the Commission have gone through a very thorough, dispassionate process, even if sometimes they are bitter pills to swallow. For example, it is clear to the discerning that an increase in rates still looms considering the rampaging cost of production and may not be too far in the horizon, but it will surely be easier to cope with when there is an understanding that the Commission under the watchful and complimentary leadership of its management and Board must have done their homework and found it to be the last unavoidable straw.
This piece must not be misunderstood as a form of thumbs-down of the Commission’s Management team. Indeed it must be emphasized here that the Management did not in any way exceed its remit in approving the upward review. This piece must therefore be seen in its proper perspective as an appreciation and applause for an organization whose corporate governance rating is exceptional and pacesetting.
Dear Board Members, it is your day today; step forward and take a bow.