NITEL has become a sad reflection of the mismanagement of public institutions in Nigeria...
Senate opposes NITEL liquidation
The Senate has written to the Chairman, National Council on
Privatisation, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, protesting against the liquidation
of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited and its mobile subsidiary, the
Nigerian Mobile Telecommunications Limited.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator
Gbenga Obadara, who disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent in
Abuja on Thursday, said the lawmakers would favour concession.
Obadara said should the Federal Government go ahead to
appoint a liquidator for the national operator, the Senate would also inform
such company of its opposition to the proposed liquidation of NITEL and M-Tel.
NCP had recently announced that it had approved three
prospective liquidators for NITEL that would have to bid for the final slot to
undertake the liquidation of the telecoms operator.
However, it did not name the three prospective liquidators.
Obadara said, “We have said it so well to the Vice-President
who chairs the National Council on Privatisation that supervises the Bureau of
Public Enterprises. There is no way the Senate of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria can accept guided liquidation of NITEL.
“They say NITEL owes N351bn but nobody till today is able to
tell us who owes NITEL. Nobody can tell us the worth of NITEL. Even from the
N351bn they are talking about, they said NITEL and M-Tel owe the Federal
Government N171bn. We have it on authority and the records are here that the
Federal Government owes NITEL N250bn in services over the years. If you remove
the net, how much remains.
“They say NITEL owes banks N64bn. Can it not be
renegotiated? Look at the non-core assets of NITEL. It is in the region of
several billions of naira. That is why we say you cannot liquidate NITEL. We
have already put a caveat on it and whoever they will appoint to liquidate
NITEL would be told in strong terms that the Senate of the Federal Republic is
against guided liquidation of NITEL in any form.”
He added, “What we want is concession of NITEL, a private
public participation arrangement. The concessionaire comes, revives NITEL for
about five, 10 years and returns it to the nation. Now we are talking about
broadband penetration. The president himself agrees to it. And now we want to
sell our SAT-3 to somebody. Does that show any reasoning?
“NITEL has the widest network in the country. They have the
widest penetration in the country. It is for personal interest that they want
to liquidate NITEL. That is why we say no. They have failed for many years to
sell NITEL and now we are saying no to liquidation.
“Why do they want to dispose of NITEL? No nation sells its
incumbent operator. They had tried to sell what is not attractive. Let them
advertise for concession and you will see how many people that will come
forward. Let us adopt another approach.”
Obadara described the proposed guided liquidation of NITEL
as fraudulent. He alleged that through guided liquidation, the properties of
NITEL numbering more than 5000 across the country would be given to cronies of
people in government.