By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Some of my friends make fun of me by calling me “The Lord Lugard of MTN” because of my loyalty to the network from the very beginning. Like every other Nigerian, I have had my problems with the network but I never thought of porting, as they say. Unfortunately what happened on Thursday, November 9, in this year of Our Lord has made me to think of moving on. I should not be seen to be glamorizing suffering on behalf of MTN.
I take special pride in owning the earliest still-surviving MTN SIM card. I am a well-worn Luddite. It happened that I was advised to swap the card so that it can be cut without damage to fit the modern phones. I took the card to the Opebi Street, Ikeja, Lagos office of MTN and the doors were locked because of ongoing repairs. The two security men on duty advised me to hurry to the 75 Allen Avenue office of MTN to check if I could get attended to there. I then saw a notice on the perimeter fence advising customers to go to other MTN offices to be attended to, and 75 Allen Avenue Office was duly included.
It took me a handful of minutes to get to the Allen Avenue office. A young man inside the office gave me a form to fill in. I told the young man I had already done the formal MTN registration where I answered the repeated question of my mother’s maiden name. In the form on offer I needed to mention the six numbers I called most frequently, to wit, my wife, my brother, my sister, my buddies etc. I waited on a chair for about 20 minutes before the genial young man directed me to a fair lady who would attend to my needs.
The lady’s yellow MTN shirt bore her name Nene M on the chest, upfront. The lady said I should produce my national ID card or my international passport before I could be attended to. I told her I was not an alien to be carrying my passport all over the place in my own country. I took time to explain to her that I had done all the initial MTN registration which she can cross-check through her system. She was huffing and puffing, more officious than a colonial court messenger, alias Kotma. I told her that my office ID card ought to suffice in the circumstances because my national ID card got burnt in the house fire that destroyed my home. She insisted that MTN’s immutable policy cannot be countermanded. It was an obvious case of using the “law” to thwart progress on all fronts. I told her the phone I’m using is duly registered in her system and there’s hardly any use for any federal identity card to bear me out. All she needed to do was to punch on her computer to see all my bona-fides. In the end she asked me to leave without having any work done. So MTN only succeeded in taking round a pathetic rigmarole unbecoming of the company.
As a student of psychology it was easy to discern that the MTN lady was somewhat using her own sadness to visit on others in the name of implementing MTN “law”. This primitive way of doing business does not place MTN on any enviable position whatsoever. Any thief can forge the national ID card, and he will be promptly attended to by the Nenes of MTN without batting an eyelid. It’s against this background of punishing genuine subscribers that criminals and kidnappers still thrive because MTN misses the essence and embraces the accident!