Dear MTN, I Am Nigerian. Don’t Mess With Me.


Hi. My name is Ashiwel, and I am a Nigerian, just like you. I have dreams, and fears, and insecurities, and hopes and wishes, just like you do.

I do all the regular things young Nigerians do: I blog (, tweet (@iamashiwel), have a facebook account, and bash the government when they misbehave.

I also complained about the quality of service delivery but did nothing about it…until now.

But I am a Nigerian consumer, just like you, and I had no idea how much power we had…until now.

These are the facts:
Nigerians run many African economies. We run many foreign health systems. The UK’s Educational system depends to a huge extent on Nigerians for survival; (can I get a witness?)

We are the largest market in Africa, and the world knows it. They recognize it and they fall over themselves to market to Nigerians.

Think about it: Nokia, Blackberry, Toyota, Honda, Microsoft, and a host of others recognize Nigeria as a crucial market. If we the Nigerian consumers sneezed, I promise you, a lot of people all over the world will freeze to death.

For instance, Nigeria is arguably Nokia’s largest market. If all Nigerians decided not to buy Nokia until they reduced their prices by 20%, will they pull out their phones from the Nigerian market, or will they reduce their prices?

But then, I wanted to talk about MTN Nigeria, Not Nokia. With the connection at a really low point, Blackberry services down on a regular basis, and yet another apology to it’s “numerous” customers, I just wanted to show you, one of the numerous customers, what you have done for MTN.

As at June 2011, MTN had 40.5 million subscribers, and between March 2001 and December 2010 MTN Nigeria made a total of N2.988 Trillion (twelve zeros). After taxes and other deductions, they declared a profit of N857.655 Billion.

So let’s do the math. If you exclude the first year, in which they declared a loss, then the company makes a profit of nearly 100 Billion Naira every year. Profits are what they take home after paying taxes, staff salaries, directors salaries and allowances, and all the deductions for running their cars, network infrastructure, buying diesel for their generators, etc. N100 Billion.

Over 52 percent of phone users in Nigeria use MTN. They operate in 21 countries including South Africa, Iran, Ghana, Cyprus, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Britain, and yet Nigerian subscribers alone make up 26.6 percent of their subscriber base in all these 21 countries put together.

So we ‘dash’ MTN Nigeria N100,000,000,000 every year to get crappy network, poor service, dropped calls, erratic blackberry internet subscription, some of the most expensive call rates in the world, and apologies to their numerous customers? Is that how foolish they think us? Is that how insignificant we are?

I am a Nigerian consumer, and I deserve the best I can get, especially if I am paying for it. And if the CPC won’t do something, or would rather enrich their coffers while you the Nigerian consumer continues to suffer, maybe we can make our own voices heard.

So, this Saturday, 7th July 2012, for five hours, from 10am to 3.00pm, I will be switching off my MTN phone in protest. I just want them to know that I can take away that 100 billion.

I know, some might be tempted to brush this aside and say it’s not their problem. I know I may be a drop in the ocean; just be one lonely voice, but imagine if 40.5 million MTN subscribers switched off their phones for 5 hours. Imagine what message we would be sending to them. Imagine what we could do with this new found consumer power!

We would be saying: “Dear MTN, I am Nigerian. Don’t mess with me.”

If you join me, we can, and will make a formidable consumer force. Because we don’t need MTN to apologize anymore. We don’t need them to be sorry. We need them to be different.

We need them to give us the service for which we pay them a hundred billion each year.


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