Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, on Tuesday, March 31; urged telecom companies to subsidise the cost of calls and data to cushion the effect of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
A British telecom firm, Vodafone had, in the wake of the pandemic; offered a 30-day free unlimited mobile data to half a million of its pay monthly customers.
The mobile network said it was doing so as part of its support measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers considered “vulnerable” will be automatically upgraded, it said, while others can apply.
In this vein, Pantami urged telecoms companies via his Twitter handle; to ensure they further subsidy or reduce calls and data for citizens in this critical time.
The telecoms firms, however, said they have been supporting the nation as first responders as they tackle the menace of COVID-19.
They, however, said they were not interested in making a showmanship of the gesture at this trying time.
As earlier conveyed, as d Minister of @FMoCDENigeria in charge of Policy of the Telecom Sector as in NCA, 2003, Part 1, I “urge” @NgComCommission, @MTNNG, @GloNg, @AirtelNigeria, @9mobilengCare,etc to ensure they further subsidy/relax calls/data for citizens in this critical time
— Isa Ali Pantami, PhD (@DrIsaPantami) March 30, 2020
Acting under the aegis of Association of Licensed telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON); its Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, said though the times are hard, the telcos have been doing a lot to support the country during this trying times.
Adebayo said the industry is looking at various options as responsible and caring corporate citizens to support the government and the customers.
Meanwhile; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the apex bank and other financial institutions will open for business.
This is in spite of the two-week lockdown declared by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states.
Isaac Okorafor, the CBN’s Director; Corporate Communications made this known in a statement in Abuja on Monday, March 30.
1st News had reported President Buhari issued a directive restricting the movement of people; excluding those on essential service with effect from 11 pm on Monday, March 30 in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States.
This is a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Okorafor explained that subsequently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained Presidential approval to permit critical financial services to function; during this period.
He said relevant security agencies had been requested to grant passage to the critical staff of these institutions to enable essential and strategic financial transactions to go undisrupted; during the period of the lockdown.