Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai has denied rumours making rounds that he has a stake in telecommunications company, Etisalat Nigeria, warning those behind the unfounded news to desist from their falsehood against him.
The rumours were traced to the recent meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, where issues of the dwindling economy including the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) were discussed.
According to the rumour mongers, Mr. El-Rufai purportedly rejected any soft landing for MTN becaue of his interest in Etisalat.
But in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Muyiwa Adekeye, the governor gave insight to what transpired at the NGF meeting.
The statement read: “As part of a duty of political responsiveness to Nigerians who are entitled to all the facts, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna, hereby issues this statement on the NCC fine.
“At the most recent meeting of the Nigerian governors’ forum on Wednesday, 18 November 2015, the executive vice-chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission gave a presentation.
“During the question and answer session that followed, the governor of Zamfara state brought up the issue of the MTN fine, including reports that leniency of a reduction in the amount was being considered.
“After it was made clear by the NCC that the relevant law and regulations do not permit leniency in such matters, the governors unanimously passed a motion that if any flexibility is to be considered by the federal government, it is that MTN be allowed to stagger payment of the fine in four installments within one year.
“Governor El-Rufai participated actively in the discussions, and helped modify the motion that was eventually adopted.
“The NGF does not have constitutional, regulatory or enforcement powers. Its motion is purely advisory and strongly supportive of the NCC and the need to uphold regulatory rulings properly issued.
“The NGF appreciated that a reduction of such a fine not only creates moral hazard but subject to even wilder interpretations on how it was procured.
“Apart from encouraging state institutions to uphold rules, state governors have direct beneficial interest in ensuring that additional revenues accrue to the federation account for the benefit of the three tiers of government. This is the greater public interest which motivated the unanimous passage of the motion by the governors.
“Governor Nasir El-Rufai believes that Nigerians will see beyond the attempt to insert him into a purely regulatory issue. He is not the NCC and did not author the rules that were breached; neither did he encourage one out of several telcos to breach a regulation of national security significance.
“Suffice it to mention that neither Nasir El-Rufai nor anyone representing him owns any equity interest in Etisalat; neither is it true that Jabi Mall is owned in any way by El-Rufai or any person related to him.
“Governor El-Rufai intends to vigorously defend his reputation against the cowards hiding behind the veil of online anonymity”.