Plans to liquidate the Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) and Mobile Telecommunication (MTEL), by the Federal Government may eventually not materialise as the Nigerian Senate has indicated its stand against the controversial sale of the company .
The upper chamber is however more comfortable with concessioning of the company than outright sale. The inability Of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to ascertain the actual cost of the assets of the two companies is also upsetting to the Senate.
The chairman of the senate committee on Privatisation, Olugbenga Obadara, explained that the country would benefit more if concession process is applied by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (PBE), rather than outright liquidation.
He also emphasised that if the worth of the asset of NITEL spread across the country can not be ascertained, there is no justification to sell such assets.
The senator said his committee during their investigation found that federal government is owing NITEL over N251 billion, in addition to other debts owed NITEL which is not known.
Senator Oludara has maintained that the country would benefit more if concession process is applied by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (PBE), rather than outright liquidation.
He noted that more jobs would also be created and also saved if the BPE can go through concession process as was done in the power sector,
The Senator also pointed out that the problem with NITEL and MTEL is more of management problem.
According to him , the problem got out of hand when the PENTASCOPE; a company in Netherlands which lacks managerial capacity, came and took over NITEL, and squandered the N100 billion which NITEL had in its account.
He strongly believes that if a life-line is given to NITEL through good concession arrangement, capable investors would come after it at conditions beneficial to Nigeria public .
On this note the chairman , Senate committee on Privatisation called on the federal government to be cautious in its decision on privatisation as some may adversely affect the economy of the country, Obadara suggested that more efforts should be made to create conditions necessary for revamping the sectors, noting that NTEL and MTEL are national wealth.
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi (Abuja)