OPINION: MTN Nigeria Did Not Deserve This Carnage, By Dr. Kester Osahenye

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In law practice there is a parlance known as “Nemo judex in causa sua (or nemo judex in sua causa) is a Latin phrase that literally translates – “no-one should be a judge in his own cause.”

I have maintained unrestrained rage and equanimity not to respond to the umbrage, unprovoked attacks, and the destructions of MTN Offices, franchise shops and base stations in a reprisal attacks for the black-on-black crimes in South Africa, which I am hesitant to refer to as “Xenophobia”, it is black South Africans killing black and destroying fellow black businesses, unfortunately not whites killing black people.

One Professor I knew and used to respect stepped on the wrong side of history today, he infuriated me by describing the attacks on MTN structures, franchise shops and base stations as “served you people right”, he also described MTN Foundation corporate social responsibility projects as “tokenism” and “inadequate”, “self-serving”. I am only disappointed that an educated man could say such a thing about the misfortunes of a responsible corporate entity.

To do business in Nigeria is tough, to exist and survive as a corporate entity in a country, where you provide your own power, your own security, your own water supplies, where everyone wants parts of the pie, legally and illegally is tougher.

I will recall two stories that are both didactic and metaphorical for me, during the rampaging flooding and a near-hurricane incidents in 2014, MTN Foundation purchased and donated relief supplies to the Niger Delta and Eastern Nigeria victims of that floods.

MTN Foundation also trained personnel and experts on massive campaign for urban city renewal, afforestation and city expansion programmes, they educated the citizens on the danger of poor attitude to waste management, and how to use drainage system to curb flood occurrences. I represented MTN Foundation in one of the Niger Delta States, the Deputy Governor stood in for the Governor at the handing-over ceremony, he kept us waiting for hours, when he arrived after 3 hours with retinue of aides and armed policemen, he spoke in his native dialect, and brashly repeated same in pidgin English “Na blankets, Mattresses, foods, clothes na wetin MTN fit bring? Na money we want”, he showed his unabashed ingratitude throughout the formal handing over of these items worth millions of Naira.

In 2015, a miscreant while stealing MTN diesel and equipment from the BTS location fell and killed himself. Irate mobs almost lynched my colleagues and I during that incident. The community destroyed the generator house and sealed the BTS site, they mandated MTN to bury the deceased thief, pay the family 20 million Naira, the youths association requested for a compensation estimated at 40 million Naira. It sound ludicrous? Yes, but true.

In 2010 during the FIFA World cup sponsored by MTN, a Youth Organisation sent a sponsorship bill of 80million Naira for their annual Conference to me and my team, we politely replied them, and offered 1million Naira and branded freebies worth 300,000 Naira. They responded with a threat to destroy all MTN assets in that State under “48 hours”, if they don’t have 80 million. We reported the threat to the Commissioner of police and the SSS, they called for a truce, during the negotiations meeting, the President of the Association walked pass the Commissioner of Police and gave me a sight blurring slap. The rest they say is history.

I am not the spokesperson for MTN Nigeria, I do not pretend to be one, I am adding my voice to the decibels of human voices saying “MTN infrastructure and offices should not be destroyed in this cross fire of crises, fake news, misinformation and distortions of facts are dangerous, because MTN does not deserve this reprisal and hate as a corporate institution”.

As telco globally talk about Internet of Things, accelerating 5G availability, become integrated into every adjacent industry. It’s not just about connecting smartphones anymore: planning to connect everything from self-driving cars to high-performing industrial robots. MTN Nigeria is presently battling multifarious crises, because it is operating in a tough and difficult environment. From debilitating regulatory fines, to convoluted financial sanctions that could break the back of any organisation.

MTN Nigeria is a national pride and asset, now fully listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, we must protect this brand from the destructive influences of nitwits. We must be strident and unequivocal in condemning this barbaric reprisals, these alleged crimes are incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of our nation. The CEO and the entire management of MTN Nigeria made public statements, they condemned the Xenophobic attacks on Nigeria in South Africa. The hate crimes in South Africa whose perpetrators are consumed by zealotry and ephemeral allure, they will never eviscerate our love for Nigeria.

We will see the extinction of xenophobic violence, whether it is an onslaught of genetically or culturally inferior interlopers—maybe fringe conspiracy theory by criminal gangs, note evil will never overcome good in our land.

Let me put some records straight, MTN CSR is not “self-serving” or “tokenism”, MTN Nigeria through its corporate Social Responsibility CSR vehicle, MTN Foundation, has sponsored over 400 or more Nigerian children to India, South Africa and other countries for treatment for different life threatening ailments, from hole-in-the-heart, to victims of accidents etc.

MTN Foundation Board of Directors are from the best minds across the geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Highly esteemed personalities like Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Dennis Okoro, they presently co-create with Nigerians for CSR with “What Can We Do Together”, they
know women and girls have a unique power to reshape our nation. MTN Foundation invests heavily in woman’s health and economic empowerment, because they know it has a ripple effect on nation building, the “Mother & Child” health-centric projects will help families, communities, and our country achieve long-lasting health benefits.

Project A.S.A.P (Anti-Substance Abuse Programme), a recent campaign to raise awareness on the menace of substance abuse and addiction in the country, is already changing the scourge of substance abuse among different demographics in our nation.

MTN Foundation through its Medical Support Project contributed to ameliorating the plight of Nigerians diagnosed with kidney diseases, as over 4,000 patients benefitted from the haemodialysis facilities donated by the Foundation to 13 public health institutions across the country.

MTN Foundation didn’t not just supply the core equipment but the consumables, the beds, airconditioners and even generators for electricity for these haemodialysis facilities. MTN Foundation spent millions of Naira for the cost of the civil works and non-clinical training of the facility staff.

MTN Foundation Mammography Centres was donated to six public medical institutions in the six geopolitical zones of the country, the mammography centres today helped many public health institutions in Nigeria to strengthen breast cancer screening capacity.

Recently, MTN Foundation donated medical supplies and equipment worth millions of Naira to three tertiary health institutions in South-Eastern Nigeria, after several reports of how deplorable those health institutions were.
Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH), Owerri, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), in Anambra state and the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA 1), in Ebonyi state.

MTN Foundation refurbished, renovated and equipped over 150 public secondary schools across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Apart from donating e-libaries and computers to many government owned Universities, e-library infrastructure. MTN Foundation’s Universities Connect initiative changed the face of digital libraries at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Nigeria, University of Lagos and University of Benin etc.

MTN Foundation every year gives fully funded scholarships, through its “Science & Technology Scholarship” scheme which seeks to attract high performing full time students studying in public tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) in Nigeria. The scholarship provides financial assistance to students who might otherwise be unable to pay for their tertiary education and aims to recognize and reward academic excellence at all times, some of the graduands presently work with MTN.

Each year a maximum of 500 qualified and successful full-time Nigerian students studying science and technology related courses are awarded the scholarship which covers tuition, book allowance and stipends. The scholarship is renewed every year until graduation for existing awardees provided they have maintained a minimum CGPA of 3.5 or its equivalent (second class upper/upper credit).

Since 2010 when this scholarship kicked off, over 5,000 scholarships have been awarded. The scholarships is awarded on an annual basis, it is worth N200,000.00 (Two hundred thousand Naira). This covers tuition, book allowances and living allowances for one academic year.

There are many areas of our lives MTN Foundation have touched but, I will hasten to say, one institution cannot be everything to over 180 million Nigerians, MTN as a brand empowered our youths through entertainment, without “Project Fame” sponsored by MTN, no one will know global musical stars like Inyanya, Chidinma, Praiz, Immaculate, Monica etc.

MTN brand will never condone any crime against humanity, xenophobia is a vestige of a racist ideology that must be crushed. We must collectively destroy the tenacity of the dogma that expresses it, through our love, patience and restraints in fanning the embers of conflicts.
#NoToHateCrimes #WeCondemnXenophobia

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