Contractors groan as MTN pulls out of multi-million naira projects


Many contractors working with MTN Nigeria have been dealt a crippling blow as the company adjusts its operations to cope with the N330billion fine slammed on it by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) in 2015.

MTN, Nigeria’s largest mobile operator, was initially fined N1.04 trillion for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards.

The fine on the South Africa-owned company was later reduced to N330 billion, out of which N110billion had been paid as at April 2017.

One of the measures the company took to cushion the effect of the fine was the withdrawal of its sponsorship of some multi-million naira projects.

Among the projects affected were television game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and music talent reality TV show, Project Fame.

Both shows were produced for MTN by Ultima Studio.

The withdrawal from sponsorship of Who Wants to be a Millionaire was confirmed in June this year, but that of Project Fame is still shrouded in secrecy.

A reliable source within the company, however, confirmed to that the telecoms giant was no longer sponsoring the show.

According to the source, the company is looking at coming up with leaner but well-designed replacement.

The source also added that MTN embarked on a lot of cost saving measures because of the heavy fine.

“It is instructive to know that by imposing that fine on us, the Nigerian government was also punishing its citizens who have been affected by the measures we have taken to cut cost.

“Many of our contractors are groaning because of loss of revenue from working on our projects.

“Programmes like Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Project Fame employ a lot of Nigerians from producers, to cameramen, scriptwriters and food vendors.

“Now that we do not have those projects, the people are also feeling the negative effects of the fine,” the source argued.

The withdrawal from Project Fame comes one year after MTN dropped Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Dr. Sid, Sound Sultan, Banky W, KCee, Harrysong, Patience Ozokwor, Timaya, Sean Tizzle and Davido as brand ambassadors.

Top echelon of MTN Nigeria including Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Dabengwa; Head of Nigeria Operation, Michael Ikpoki, and the Head of Cooperate Affairs, Akinwale Goodluck, were also relieved of their jobs.