Consultants handling the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card registration on behalf of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have called on the Commission to extend the exercise to March 31, 2012 and pay them for the work done so far.
The consultants are demanding payment of N175 per subscriber registered, saying it would help cover rural areas where there are still subscribers who are yet to be registered for the exercise. Seven companies including SW Global, PNN, JKK, Chams, DATAGROUPIT, EAGLE/CBC, and E-KENNETH/SageMetric won the contract to register subscribers on behalf of NCC in South East, North Central, South West, Lagos, North East, North West and South South respectively while KPMG provides end-to-end coordination.
One of the consultants who spoke on behalf of the rest, said NCC had agreed to pay N145 per subscriber registered, but reneged and paid N115 which affected their cashflow and has caused them to incur losses. Appealing to the Commission to pay N175 per SIM card and make the payment based on SIM card rather that on per record, she said “The Commission can accommodate this since the budget could not have been exhausted as the number of records captured by us is far below the number used in preparing the budget.”
She noted that NCC insisted on bank issued Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) instead of the more common Insurance company guarantee. “This meant that the down payments made to us by NCC were not available to prosecute the project. Instead, we had to borrow money from the banks at high interest rates that reduced our margins further.”
Other demands include replacement of the APG with insurance bond; and extensive and continuous advertisement by NCC to bring out the rural subscribers.
She said the consultants went into the exercise in good faith and commitment to contribute to national security. Unfortunately, due to the challenges enumerated above, they have lost lots of money on the exercise. Meanwhile, Mr. Reuben Mouka, Head, Media and Public Affairs, NCC has denied knowledge of the demands of the consultants saying it has not been brought to his notice or that of the Commission. The House of Representatives had in October 2010 approved N6.1 billion SIM card registration budget on behalf of NCC. The Commission began the SiM registration exercise in April and end on September 28, 2011, six month after it began. Although an extension window was to allow for those yet to register to do so, NCC is currently harmonising the results of the exercise with those of telecom operators in order to have a single database of telephone and internet users in Nigeria.