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Quick take: Why the fight by Nigerian students against MTN is the wrong fight

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Quick take: Why the fight by Nigerian students against MTN is the wrong fight

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) sealed a local office of telecoms company, MTN on Thursday. According to NANS, the protest was taken against the ‘South African’ telecoms company in protest against the xenophobic attacks and killings of Nigerians in South Africa.

NAN’s Director of Travels and Exchange, Dominic Philip, said:

  • “It appears that the South African government is incapable of bringing their citizens to order and stop the killings, leaving us with no option than to picket South African businesses in Nigeria until the killing is stopped.”

Why it is the wrong fight: While MTN is a South African company by origin, Nigerians hold over 20% of the company’s local operations. The majority shareholding (about 76%) is held by MTN International operating out of Mauritius. With MTN’s recent listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the company has become open to ownership of more Nigerians. Attacks on MTN by NANS can inspire other groups to act against the company and this would negatively impact both the Nigerian shareholders and those employed by the firm.

MTN has been at the receiving end of Nigerian government’s regulatory actions within the past 3 years.

  • Just recently, MTN Nigeria named a new Management Board with its chairman being former National Communications Commission (NCC) boss, Ernest Ndukwe. Many have seen this move as a strategic one which will help protect MTN’s interests with Nigerian regulators.

Bottomline: Aggrieved Nigerians should rather direct their protest (through official means) against their government or South African government representatives in the country. Actions such as this could potentially endanger more Nigerians both economically and in the event of retaliations by the South Africans.

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