Originally, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, was established as a public company, only to be commercialized later. This notwithstanding, NITEL still positioned itself out clearly as the national carrier in telecommunications services. Consequently, it services as a national prestige. By this, it serves as a platform and a way-out through which the government implements telecommunications policies.
In essence, the position of NITEL is such that it helps in organizing and regulating telecommunications industry in Nigeria. NITEL also converge Nigerians together with the aim of achieving organizational goals. The implications of this is that the socio-cultural diversities (differences) on Nigeria is transcended and relegated to the background for the interest of enhancing national and organizational development (pushing NITEL forward).
Furthermore, it is the only major telecommunications organization in which its industrial tentacles have a nationwide spread. Similarly, despite the existence of competition in the telecommunications industry, the demands for NITEL;s services till necessary. This is because the services of NITEL are beneficial to the general public, and are therefore indispensable to families, business organization, institutions, corporate bodies, NGOs, government agencies, etc. Again, NITEL offers employment opportunities to Nigerians. The strategic position of NITEL as a typical modern organization has necessitated accommodating thousands of Nigerian employees. These individuals pay their taxes, earn their living, and take care of some of their problems of living from the remunerations they get from NITEL employment.
Problems Militating Against Effective And Efficient Performance Of Nitel
Being a dynamic organization, NITEL is constrained by some operational and technical limitations. (1) Among these are bribery and corruption. Some NITEL employees refuse to do their official duties unless they are given extra-official monetary compensations (bribes) by customers. Of course this drags the reputation of the organization to dust. (2) There are also the problems of bureaucracy and political (governmental) interference in the operations of NITEL. This has made NITEL, and its employees to experience what is called Occupational Alienation. This is a situation in which the employees (personnel) isolate themselves from the organization. They therefore see the organization as not their personal business or asset. They do not make much effort to protect the organization.
Bureaucracy in NITEL also leads to Incapacitated Training. This is a rigid form of doing things that is devoid of flexibility, innovations, learning, and rapid changes.
(3) Often the facilities of NITEL are vandalized by thieves, and other civil engineering workers. This may be starting point for the development of faults in the concerned facilities. Ironically, these faults may be difficult to detect. Sometimes, when the faults are identified, the officials of NITEL that are entrusted with the responsibilities of rectifying the faults exhibit negative attitudes towards doing so.
This may be as a result of poor expertise, or negligence to duties. In the same vein, telephone line subscribers hardly get the phones and wires from NITEL, since it (NITEL) claims that these are out of stock. This forces the subscribers to incur extra expenses in buying all these from the open market, though they paid NITEL for them during the subscription. (4) Furthermore, there are the problems of NITEL giving their customers outrageous bills, calls misdirection/interference, frequent brake-downs, touts. (5) Impersonation is another problem NITEL faces. Here individuals pose as NITEL officials and extort money from unsuspecting NITEL customers. On the other way round, customers may liaise with touts to defraud NITEL.
(6) Favouritism is another problem existing in NITEL. Some individuals and organizations that do not perform “essential” duties are labeled High Net-worth Customers. Such individuals are given special preferential considerations in their relationship with NITEL.
This is contrary to the treatment being given to the majority of the customers who often complain of their lines not working after they must have paid for these. (7) These is also the problem of NITEL tossing the lines of those who are not owning the organization. (8) Again making calls to some regions of the country is often very difficult, while to some others, it is relatively easy. As a result of this, callers keep on making trail calls without the calls getting through. This is most discouraging. It is simply a sign of inefficiency though NITEL claims that the problems are as a result of teledensity (high concentration of telecommunications usage in a particular place and time).
NITEL is also owed huge sum of debt running into billions of Naira, by individuals and other organizations. This is a great constraint for a self-financing organization like NITEL. Even some banks that serve as collection points for NITEL may refuse to release collected fees unless bribed by NITEL.
Recommendations For Overcoming The Problems Constraining Nitel’s Performance
It is interesting to note that none of the identified NITEL’s problems is insurmountable. It only needs a strong will for NITEL to institute solution strategies to the problems. On the general note, (1) efforts should be made to develop NITEL’s human resources on ethical training. This should not be done for doing sake, but should be enforced, and appropriate sanctions meted out against violators. There is no doubt that this will go to a great extent in checking some of the sharp practices existing in NITEL. (2) Ethical training will also serve as integrity training for NITEL officials, since modern personnel training has transcended the traditional technical and managerial trainings.
Again, (3) NITEL should see its commercialization as an advantage for it to overcome the rigidity (bureaucratic) nature of its operations. The government should also reduce its interference in the operations of NITEL. Based on this, the organization should embrace flexibility and promptness in responding to problems both in its operations, as well as those reported by customers. This will help in bridging the gap created between the organization and the customers ensure that the stores of the organization are replenished in time, and as well foster prompt maintenance of technical problems.
Furthermore, (4) there is need for NITEL to manage its relationship with its customers very well. This is most important not that there are competitions in the telecommunications industry. Fortunately, NITEL has what is called Customers Forum.
This is an interact ional session or opportunity between NITEL and its customers to review corporate performance. Here customers are very opportuned to ask or present to NITEL management the problems they are experiencing in their dealing with the organization. NITEL should regard their customers as partners in progress who help it to identify corporate mistakes and problems the organization may not be aware of. The most important aspect of this relationship is that NITEL should take seriously the reports the customers give and make haste to amends. This will end up hiving their customers satisfactory services.
Since no organization can make much progress without good financial base, (5) NITEL should therefore embark on aggressive financial recovery, especially regards the money owed it by it by its customers. This recovery should be devoid of discrimination, since the so-called High Net-worth Customers are the people owing NITEL the largest chunk of the debts. (6) Still efforts should be made to find other forms of organizational enlargements, which will contribute significantly in boosting the revenue base as well as the importance of the organization, for instance expanding into the suburb.
(7) NITEL should also find a way of developing its technical human resources to be competent or recruiting new and competent ones for handling the frequently reported technical problems. This will also be a check against touting and impersonation that flourish against the organization as result of the deficiency in technical expertise of NITEL.
(8) Finally, understanding and implementing this analysis will be tantamount to efficiency, effectiveness, and restoring the confidence people have on NITEL.