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Nigerians pick on MTN, Airtel, request for free data, airtime not SMS

Some Nigerians took to Twitter to lament over the actions of MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria demanding for more than just free SMS



Internet World Stats, Nigerian Communications Commission remittance, Network operators in Nigeria, Telecoms companies in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Africa, Globacom data, 9mobile court case, Top 10 states in Nigeria with the highest Internet subscribers , Telecommunications: The bright spot in a fragile economy, Telcos add 5.64 million voice and data subscribers in Q3 2019 - NBS , Alleged N200bn Debt: EFCC, DSS to probe telcos, Network glitch, as poor internet speed continues to impede banking services, Telecoms record 725% increase in foreign capital investment, as GDP contribution hits N6 trillion, Coronavirus: Instant messaging platforms, Telcos raking in funds from the work-from-home policy, Telecoms: Bright spot amidst the gloom, Nigerians lambast MTN, Airtel for offering free SMS, ignoring request for free data, airtime

Some Nigerians took to Twitter to lament over the actions of MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria, Telecommunications firms. The telcos had promised their subscribers free SMS, as they comply with the sit at home order of the Federal Government.

The telcos took the decision after the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, appealed to them via his Twitter to offer their subscribers free data or airtime.

Keyamo made the appeal in order to ease the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian workers, but instead, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria chose to offer their subscribers free SMS.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Airtel Nigeria said, “Airtel announces free SMS to all customers to connect with loved ones. Free SMS can be sent to all your friends and family across any network.” On the other hand, MTN Nigeria said it customers can send free 10 SMS daily for 30 days.

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Nigerians castigated the Telcos:

But this act of generosity did not go down well with Nigerians who stormed the Twitter accounts of these telcos to let register their displeasure. @Drmuzoic responded to MTN, stating, “We need data to work effectively from home and stay abreast of new updates online. Take your SMS and reduce the price of data.” 

[READ MORE: Nigerians react as DStv donates N1.2 billion, demand free subscription amidst Coronavirus lockdown)

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Another twitter user, @onyipomping said, “We don’t need free SMS. Give us free data. Stingy network” While supporting Onyipomping, @Ajayidoying stated, “We hardly send SMS, we want data. SMS to do what?” 

Meanwhile, @KelvinAganbi tweeted, “In other news, you are giving all your customers #1,200. Please convert mine to data. Thank you.” @official_dlaw seconded Aganbi’s tweet, “That’s 2gig data na based on their current price. How hard could it be,” he asked MTN Nigeria

Also, @Amally_A told MTN Nigeria, “Data would have been better or even appreciated, SMS is outdated, reduce the price of subscription even if you can’t make it free, be considerate during this trying time.” 

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@screengoddez tweeted, “This Life we need data more than sms. MTN Nigeria is just playing with Nigerians. Why won’t they gift their customers data and phone call airtime? When they know Nigerians rarely send SMS these days because there are various messaging and social media apps for texts.” 

Subscribers of Airtel Nigeria also lamented, with @obagomez1 stating, “Nice gesture, but in all honesty; 65% of your consumer base are more “internet/data” driven. I’d be glad to see a rolled out data price slash and higher lasting data volume even for 14days.” 

The free offer also didn’t go down well with @duckieworld1 who tweeted, “When someone can send message on WhatsApp and other social media. You came up with SMS. You would have just said MMS make we know say na Stone Age we de. Well it is a matter of t.” 

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@illest_rukboi had no kind words for the red network, stating, “Thunder will keee u people and your SMS. Shebi una thin say na multilinks era na im  we dey abi. Animals” 


[READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigerians in diaspora have not asked to be evacuated – FG)

@Zadokzibar said, “Simply slash the price of data.. That’s all…… What is SMS.” 

Why Nigerians are not satisfied: Most people hardly use SMS now. The internet has enabled platforms like WhatsApp send long messages that SMS can’t convey. Also, most people now work-from-home following the lockdown by the Federal Government.

And with data price still on the high-side, it’s expected that the preference will be data and not SMS because the later is limited in function, but data enables internet users do more things on the web.


Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]



  1. Efe

    April 3, 2020 at 7:06 am

    All this Telecom companies are simply overriding and exploiting us, they don’t do this sh*ts in other countries. Can MTN do same thing in South Africa? What did Airtel do in India? Anyway, this poor treatments is largely because even the so called Nigerian regulators are more interested in filling up their individual pockets than actually doing their jobs. It’s a sorry situation.

  2. Suleiman Nazifi

    April 3, 2020 at 8:44 am

    pls we need free Data not Free 300 SmS.

  3. Anonymous

    April 3, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    This Telecommunication companies are just messed up in Nigeria. Smh

  4. Andrew Joshua

    April 4, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Both MTN and AIRTEL
    on behalf of both MTN and AIRTEL customers…. I will like to show our appreciation on the free SMS
    GLO that is from NIGERIA did nothing to its country….. Thanks alot to MTN and AIRTEL

  5. Sam chukwu

    April 4, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Are u an MTN user? How much have you spent on data since covid-19 outbreak? Do u think MTN appreciate ur patronage by giving u N300 worth of sms for a month? Do u think MTN should do more? Join the protest……..
    Please share

    • Anonymous

      April 17, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      We need data not SMS,

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COVID-19 forces tenants to request moratoriums from property owners

Tenants demanding moratorium from landlords because of the effects of COVID-19.



Nigeria's real estate

The effect of the Coronavirus pandemic is telling on the Real Estate sector, as many occupants have requested moratoriums from property owners or managers.

In separate interviews by Nairametrics, some tenants said that they could no longer afford their rents, hence the need for moratoriums. If denied, a lot of them are ready to move to border towns of Lagos.

A moratorium is a legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment. The document can be obtained by tenants, to prevent the managers or owners of properties from taking legal actions against them.

A banker and resident of Oduduwa Crescent, Ikeja GRA, who simply identified as Kola, said that his landlord had informed him of a planned 25% increment in his rent from April 2020, a month before his rent was due, which he had agreed to.

Unfortunately, in May 2020, his employer (one of the Tier-1 banks) gave him the option of either accepting a 25% pay cut in May or resigning. Considering the fact that he had no side hustle, Kola chose the ‘lesser evil.’

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“I took the decision because it pays me to allow a pay cut, than being out of job. At that point, I considered requesting a moratorium, as I have never owed rents before. I could afford to pay the rent, but I didn’t know how long i will be without a job, and paying the rent from my savings was not a wise decision for me.

“Expectedly, the property owner was not comfortable with my request, as he suggested that I relocate to a cheaper facility.”

In his own case, Richard, who was a manager in one of the hotels close to the Lekki toll gate, was not as lucky as Kola. His rent was due by May, same month his employer asked him to stay at home till further notice.

Efforts to plead with his landlord to buy more time fell on deaf ears, as the owner of the Surulere apartment was bent on collecting the rent.

He said, “I had no choice but to plead for three months to secure another apartment when it became obvious that my employer would not recall us anytime soon.

“Eventually, I decided to move from Surulere to Magboro where rents are cheaper, and property owners may be reasonable unlike their counterparts in Lagos.”

Kola and Richard are only two among hundreds of breadwinners that lost their sources of income or had pay cuts, especially during the lockdown. A lot of them, whose rents were due between April and July, are currently looking for cheaper residences amidst pressure from their landlords.

No doubt, apartments are cheaper in some border towns as Lagos Akute, OPIC (Wawa), Arepo, and Magboro, all in Ogun State.

For instance, while a self-contain apartment is obtainable between N120,000 to N150,000, a 2-bedroom flat goes between N250,000 to N300,000 per annum, and a 3-bedroom flat is rented between N350,000 to N400,000. In the city centre, such as Ikeja, Gbagada and Surulere or on the Island, the rents are astronomical.

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The heat will be more

A Real Estate practitioner and also the Vice President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Gbenga Ismail, explained that the impact of COVID-19 in real estate would be felt later, because of the tenancy/rent structure of the sector.

Unlike what is obtainable in other climes like United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America, where rents are renewed on a monthly or quarterly basis, Nigeria may not feel the pressure now, as rents are paid in one or two years’ advance.

Ismail, in an interview with Channels TV said, “Most people that either lost their jobs, or had their salaries slashed, are likely to have paid their rents in advance before the virus, and that could still ease the tension for now, at least till the end of the year.

“Right now, what happened is that, by the lockdown period, you won’t feel anything; but by the third or fourth quarter of the year, you start feeling it; only then, would we see how it has affected Nigeria.

“By then, people won’t be able to pay rents or buy houses as planned. We are not sure of where the monetary issues are going now, and if lending will continue into the real estate sector. We are yet to see some of these things going on.

“Even in inventories, where developers have put houses out for rent, the concern is who is going to rent them? Before COVID-19, we wait 6 months before houses get rented or leased, but now it may not be less than 12 months. The immediate impact would soon start to reveal itself.”

More plead for moratorium

Ismail added that more tenants would likely plead for moratoriums, because their businesses may have been affected, and some might have lost their jobs.

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“Those who have mortgages and are possibly in the risk areas of losing their jobs, will definitely have discussions with their lenders if that happens. I think the mortgage firms have to listen and think of how to help them, since the COVID situation is a force majeure – unexpected circumstance. People are being forced to make decisions they did not plan to make,” he added.

In all, the expert urged all stakeholders not to panic, as the phase will definitely pass, and the economy will gradually recover.


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COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 20th of September 2020, 97 new confirmed cases and 3 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.



The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 57,242 confirmed cases.

On the 20th of September 2020, 97 new confirmed cases and 3 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,609 samples across the country.

To date, 57,242 cases have been confirmed, 48,569 cases have been discharged and 1,098 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 482,321  tests have been carried out as of September 20th, 2020 compared to 479,712 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 20th September 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 57,242
  • Total Number Discharged – 48,569
  • Total Deaths – 1,098
  • Total Tests Carried out – 482,321

According to the NCDC, the 97 new cases were reported from 12 states- Lagos (46), Kwara (12), Rivers (11), Adamawa (4), Niger (4), Ogun (4), Osun (4), Ekiti (3), Imo (3), Kaduna (3), Plateau (2), FCT (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 18,943, followed by Abuja (5,551), Oyo (3,231), Plateau (3,231), Edo (2,611), Kaduna (2,348), Rivers (2,243), Delta (1,799), Ogun (1,766), Kano (1,734), Ondo (1,597), Enugu (1,234), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,025), Abia (881), Katsina (848), Osun (817), Gombe (799), Borno (741), and Bauchi (689).

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Imo State has recorded 562 cases, Benue (473), Nasarawa (448), Bayelsa (394),  Jigawa (322), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (254), Adamawa (234), Anambra (232), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous


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Economy & Politics

Godwin Obaseki wins Edo State governorship election

Incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki emerged winner in the Edo State gubernatorial election.



Oil theft gulped $1.35 billion in first six months - Obaseki 

Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has declared Godwin Obaseki the winner of the Edo State gubernatorial election today.

Mr. Obaseki will return as the Governor of the state for a second term.

The results were declared by INEC on Sunday afternoon after the results were counted from all LGA’s on Saturday.

Obaseki had 307,955 votes, which was enough to be declared a clear winner over Ize-Iyamu’s 223,619 votes.

Obaseki took to his Twitter handle to thank the people of Edo State for their votes. He stated,

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“Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for us to triumph over godfatherism. Congratulations to all Edo people. This is our victory!”

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