The question about Tinubu’s involvement with MAFAB in the face of NCC assurances of fairness, transparency

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, it has not been made aware that Asiwaju Bola Tubu, ex-Lagos governor and party leader for the All Progressives Congress (APC), is associated with MAFAB Communications. MAFAB Communications was one of the telecoms operators who won a 5G license in the just-concluded auction.images 2 1

Certain online media published the report, which mentioned the name of the party chieftain as an investor in the telecoms firm. One publication claims that MAFAB includes high-net-worth Nigerians as its investors, including Senator Bola Ahmad Tinubu (ex-Governor of Lagos State) and Colonel Sanni bello (ex-military Governor of Kano State).

Remember that MAFAB Communications and MTN were competing to be granted 5G licenses by the Federal Government. MTN Communications and MAFAB Communications were the winners, and each received one slot.

The Nigerian Communications Commission stated that the auction process was transparent and went according to procedure. The Nigerian Communications Commission stated that the auction was observed by a wide range of stakeholders, including media, civil society groups, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria, and the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria.

The NCC has held spectrum auctions over the years and, as an independent regulatory agency has maintained an undisputable record of auctions that were fair, transparent, and open to all. This is a fact that is widely recognized locally and internationally. The auction procedures of the NCC conform to international best practices, without any interference or undue influence.

A new player in the telecoms industry

Alhaji Musibau Bashir, head of MAFAB Communications Ltd was duly licensed by Commission to operate telecommunications business on the 8th of July 2020. The company currently holds licenses for international data access (IDA), interconnect data exchange (IDE) and value-added service (VAS).

Many people were surprised that the new entrant could afford the $273.6million bid price in an auction Airtel, a huge Telco, dropped out of and didn’t even see participation by Globacom or 9mobile, two established telcos here in Nigeria.

The company’s use of the license is not clear as they do not have a mast or optical fiber for network distribution. TechnologyTimes reports that MAFAB has begun talks with equipment suppliers from China and the United States to begin mobile network operations by 2022.

Concerns that the communications company may sell its license to foreign companies because they lack the infrastructure required to execute the transaction, Technology Times was told by a source within the group that there is no such plan. Investors believe that an indigenous company will thrive in the industry.

The question of Tinubu’s involvement

There has been much controversy about Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC chieftain and an investor in MAFAB. It is difficult to believe that Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s influence was a significant factor in MAFAB’s win of the 5G deployment bid.

A conflict of interest is defined as a relationship or interest between a bidder and a person responsible for the bidding, according to Section 57, Subsection 12 Article (b) of 2007’s Public Procurement Act.

Conflict of interest is when a person has a direct or indirect relationship or interest in a bidder supplier contractor service provider. This may be inherently unethical, implied or constructed to be, and could lead to personal gain.

Public Procurement Act

Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu is an ex-senator, former governor in Lagos state and current leader of the All Progressives Congress’ national party. He is a powerful figure in the federal government and can influence federal decisions.

Although neither the NCC nor its Executive vice chairman may have a direct relationship to Tinubu but they are federal bodies, there is a significant amount of indirect interest through the Federal Ministry of Communications, under which the NCC exists.

Tinubu has significant influence over the Ministry and its Minister, and hopes to achieve this office in the near future.

Even though it’s not inherently unethical for a company where Tinubu is a shareholder, it could be implied or constructed as such according to the Procurement Act. Tinubu could also be an investor in MAFAB and his position could allow him to gain personal advantage through his ability to influence deals from the presidency.

Final words

As it should, the NCC has not disclosed Tinubu’s involvement with MAFAB. If it knew, and it turns out that Tinubu is an investment in the company’s stock, then the credibility of the commission may be in question. The auction’s credibility will also be in question.

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