By Our Editors
Since the advent of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) in Nigeria a new vista has been opened in the life of Nigerians. More than two decades after, hardly does one come across a Nigerian family or household that does not possess at least one mobile phone or device and subscribe to not less than two network providers.
With this new dawn comes its attending benefits and challenges, one of them being the menace of the barrage of unsolicited text messages unleashed on subscribers not only by the network providers but all manners of sources including, most of the time, dubious ones.
This menace – apology to the Nigerian Communications Commission which described it as such – did not start yesterday. It is as old as the existence of GSM in the country. Recently, it has grown in more alarming rate with a dangerous propensity added by scammers and other perpetrators of cybercrimes.
In a move to curb the dangerous trend with a view to completely nip it in the bud, the NCC on its website advised citizens on their rights to receiving only desired text messages and their rights to reject and probably seek redress if as such desired.
Specifically, the Commission reminded Nigerians of their “Right to Choose”, which it said is one of their rights as telecom consumers, adding that Telecom Service Providers are obliged under the Consumer Code of Practice Regulation 2007 to make available complete information on products and services that is accurate and up-to-date in in clearer terms. Invoking its regulatory powers, NCC ordered all mobile network operators to implement the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) service and create the short code ‘2442’ to enable telecom consumers take an informed and independent decision on the type of messages would want to receive from network providers.
Very courageous statement and intent made by the NCC but it is regrettable that the provision of the government agency is at best what it is here, a mere statement oblivious to most Nigerians and rather unhelpful to those in the know who had keyed into it to stop unsolicited text messages from their providers.
Almost persuaded to align with those contending that the various government agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting consumers of not only the GSM but most products in the land are mere lame ducks, this newspaper is of the view that these agencies must up their game and discharge their constitutionally-assigned duties.
By so doing, they will save the Nigerian consumer of telecom services, especially subscribers, from untold hardship ranging from theft through scam and sometimes outright swindling conversely or inadvertently aided by network-providing companies.
Whatever happens to the law of confidentiality protecting the subscribers against illegal and porous access to their phone numbers and related information, we desire a strict adherence to the provisions under the Act establishing some of these agencies and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We also deem it a matter of urgency and utmost necessity that the NCC should ensure the implementation of the provisions on their website against this menace. This newspaper also believes that the job should not be left for the NCC alone but other sister agencies similarly saddled with the responsibility of protecting not only mobile network subscribers but the entire consumers of products against substandard products and general abuse by manufacturers, providers and even the government.
While Nigerian consumers have always been at the receiving end, it will be a most rewarding and deserving experience if they are treated at par with their counterparts all over the world.