The House of Representatives yesterday threw its weight behind the enactment of a bill aiming at reducing the incidence of unsolicited telephone calls and text messages received by consumers. The bill which was sponsored by Ali Madaki (APC Kano) has already scaled through the second reading on the floor of the House. It is now awaiting fine-tuning by the House Committee on Telecommunication.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) lauds the House of Representatives for taking action on unsolicited telephone calls and text messages. Current members of the House deserve our accolades because the immediate past House ignored the matter when MURIC raised it in a press statement issued on 14th December 2014.
Unsolicited calls and text messages constitute public nuisance, irritants of no small measure, threat to the health of Nigerians and drawbacks to productivity. Judged from its irritant perspective, mobile telephone services which began actively during the regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 – 2007) is fast becoming a curse rather than a blessing unless something is done urgently.
Service providers have become extremely audacious. They exhibit no concern for the personal privacy and health of consumers. They call defenseless consumers by phone and send strange and unsolicited text messages to them at odd times. Those that are most disturbing and irritating are sent in the unholy hours of the morning between 1 and 4 am when hardworking Nigerians are fast asleep.
The messages wake them forcefully from sleep. Many find it hard to go back to sleep hours after the satanic invasion of their privacy. This is not only irritating but provocative and exploitative. It is gross abuse of priviledge on the part of service providers.
These unsolicited telephone calls and text messages are not limited to nights and early morning hours alone. They also come during the day. The high volume of text messages sent by service providers has exposed these shylock business concerns as relentless capitalist compradore bourgeoisie. Some customers receive as many as 40 messages per day.
MURIC is asking the telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria: If you can afford to send so many text messages to all customers at no extra charges to yourselves, why do you charge so high for the text messages sent by individual customers?
It is our contention that Nigerians are being taken for a ride by service providers. These capitalist-oriented companies are inflicting pain on innocent subscribers. Nigerians yearn for protection.
We call attention to the great havoc in the torrential outpouring of text messages from service providers to innocent tax-payers. The havoc is mainly in health hazards but what could be more damaging to a nation than threat to the health of its citizens?
Experts agree that sound sleep means ability to think clearly, to plan and to design the next line of action in day-to-day endeavours. The reverse is the case when sleep is brutally cut. There is no gainsaying the fact that stress and fatigue are certain to occur when people are stinted of sleep. We suspect that the current rise in mental illnesses all over the country is partly informed by this flagrant disregard for people’s privacy and the rate at which unsolicited calls and text messages have been disturbing Nigerians.
The impact of this phenomenon on the nation’s economy cannot be overemphasized. . If it is true that the health of the individual reflects on the performance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), then we must agree that the telecommunication service providers are not serving the interest of our country.
MURIC invites the Consumer Protection Society to wake up to its responsibilities. We also charge the House Committee on Telecommunication to expedite action on the draft bill as Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the outcome of its deliberation on the bill. Finally, we urge President Muhammadu Buhari to give speedy accent to the bill as soon as it gets to the Presidency.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)