Telecom Operators Asked To Halt Planned USSD Suspension To Nigerians

Written by Yusuf Zubairu

From Muhammad Salihu Tsibiri, Abuja.

House of Representatives has urged Telecom operators in the country to halt the planned withdrawal and suspension of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data USSD to Nigerians and other financial institutions.

This followed a motion by a member from Delta State, Mr Nicholas Ossai which was debated and adopted by the lawmakers at a plenary.

Mr Nicholas  Ossai said since October 2019 till date, there has been a dispute between Nigerian telecommunication operators and Nigerian banks over who should pay for USSD service sessions.

The lawmaker who emphasized the importance of network providers stressed the need for urgent intervention in the impasse over forty billion naira debt between Telecom operators and banks as well as other financial institutions.

He said the banks had always wanted the Telecom operators to charge customers directly, but the Telecom operators insisted that the services where being offered to the banks and should  therefore  be the ones to pay.

According to him, between the month of July and August 2020, the operators had an agreement with the ministry of communication and digital economy and the Nigerian communications commission NCC, that banks should pay the Telecom operators for the use of the services at an agreed individual price mechanism.

Mr Ossai noted that all efforts to resolve the dispute proved abortive and the debt kept increasing.

Telecom operators had earlier issued a notice threatening to withdraw and suspend the USSD services from Nigerian banks starting from Monday 15th march, 2021.

The lawmaker, observed that if the USSD service is withdrawn, Nigerian Telecom users would be seriously affected.

Contributing to the debate, the chairman house committee on Telecommunications, Mr Akeem Adeyemi, described the banks refusal to pay the debt as unfortunate.

Adopting the motion, the house mandated it’s committee on Telecommunications to liaise with the Telecom operators, Nigerian communications commission NCC, Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Nigerian banks and other financial institutions with a view to resolving the impasse and report back to the house within six weeks for further legislative action.