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Privatisation: BPE rekindles 2nd chance for Nitel

Posted by LUKE OKORO on 2005/08/06 | Views: 1086 |

Privatisation: BPE rekindles 2nd chance for Nitel


AFTER a scandalous Pentascope lease management of Nitel Nigeria Plc, another effort was last week made by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to privatise the poorly-managed telecommunication national carrier.

AFTER a scandalous Pentascope lease management of Nitel Nigeria Plc, another effort was last week made by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to privatise the poorly-managed telecommunication national carrier.

Mrs. Irene Chigbue, Director-General, BPE said that six firms have been short-listed for the possible take-over of the 51 per cent government equity in Nitel and its mobile telecommunication arm, Mobile Telecommunication Limited (M-TEL).

The prospective core investors included leading Mobile Telecommunication company in Nigeria ó MTN , Telkom/Vodakom consortium; Orascom, Celtel and Newtel.

According to the BPE, no fewer than 22 firms applied for expression of interests (EOIs) while the short-listed applicants would be required to pay $35,000 to obtain access to the electronic data room.

Sunday Champion learnt that the bid for the privatisation of Nitel was re-opened in September last year, during which applications were requested from potential investors for EOI.

Before now, the first telecommunication national carrier was leased to Pentascope, an offshore firm based in the Netherlands.

Although the firm was to manage Nitel for a 10-year period under a lease management contract, the deal collapsed after about two years as a result of inadequate technical knowledge by Pentascope.

Pentascope was said to have incurred several billions of debt within the two years, thereby creating doubts about its ability or competence in managing the first national carrier.

Meanwhile, the same company Pentascope was said to have inherited several billions of naira upon taking over the company.

When the National Assembly organised a public hearing on the issue, it was learnt that Pentascope was ill-equipped to manage Nitel. Available information, then, showed that the offshore company was only existing in name as its known office in the Netherlands was an old uncompleted building.

The deal was sealed during the period Malam Nasir el-Rufai, Minister in the Presidency for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was the director-general of the BPE.

However, with the correct efforts being made to privatise Nitel, analysts counsel that due diligence should be applied in the process.

Although Mrs. Chigbue had earlier affirmed the resolve of the BPE to strengthen and speedy up the privatisation agenda, observers note that the Pentascope experience was too bad for a country that was waging war against corruption and financial misdeeds at top government levels.

Similarly, the BPE has announced that the names of the 18 firms that would emenge from the unbundled former National Electronic Power Authority (NEPA) would soon be made public. NEPA has since charged its name to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Plc.

According to Mrs. Chigbue, the firms would include 11 distribution companies, six power generation outfits and one transmission company.

Sunday Champion gathered that government had already concluded arrangements to put in place an agency for the power sector. The agency to be known as Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) would be inaugurated in September.

Also, to forestal the current agitation of workers of PHCN and the pensioners, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be established to handle staff disengagement allowances/gratuities and pension.

Our correspondent gathered that the BPE has been facing serious opposition from the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) over the privatisation of NEPA.

According to the national secretary of the union, Mr. Precious Kiri-Kalio, the planned privatisation of NEPA was aimed at sending the unionís members out of their employment. He vowed that every available means would be adopted to frustrate the programme.

But the BPE has stated that the SPV, being set up would be capable to handle the liabilities of NEPA put at about N500 billion, other third party debts also inclusive.

Also in its resolve to pull through some of the privatisation programmes currently hanging, the Bureau has finalised the concessioning of Apapa Port to ENL at the rate of $2.2 million per annum for access, annual concession fee and asset purchase price. The company had earlier beaten other firms in the bid for the port complex which husbands "C" and "D." Other bidders included PSA International and Michelle Nigeria/Gold Star Line.

Going by the arrangement, ENL consortium would manage the port for 10 years, fully maintaining and upgrading its facilities. The group is made up of ENL, a Nigerian-based public utility management and Haastrup Line W. A. which has previously managed two private wharfs of bulk and break bulk cargoes in Port Harcourt.

Similarly, BPE has short-listed Dangote Chemicals, LG Chemicals and Indorama Group for Eleme Petrochemical Company Limited (EPCL), a subsidiary of the NNPC.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding