Buhari calls for comprehensive report on NITEL/MTEL liquidation…raises concerns over telecoms’ poor services

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday expressed his desire to revisit the recent liquidation of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited and its subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications Limited.

The President made his position known when officials of the Ministry of Communications Technology took their turn to brief him on the ministry’s activities at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the closed-door session with the President.

Olaopa said Buhari had directed that his ministry should prepare a memo for him on the transaction.

He said although the President was not opposed to the privatisation, his desire was to ensure that Nigeria was not short-changed in the transaction.

Olaopa said, “The President was concerned about the liquidation of NITEL.

“He is not opposed to its privatisation but he wants to know and wants us to bring a memo on how the whole transaction was undertaken so that he would know whether Nigeria was short-changed.”

The permanent secretary added that Buhari also raised concerns over the quality of service being offered by telecommunications firms in the country.

He said the delegation explained to the President some of the factors responsible for the poor service.

He identified the factors to include multiple taxation and the right of way.

He expressed the optimism that Buhari would wade into the situation in order to ensure that Nigerians would get value for money.

He added, “The President was concerned about the quality of service by telecommunication operators. The President is very concerned about the whole issue of privatisation that is hindering the investments in the ICT infrastructure and that he will personally champion this.

“The President talked about the potential of the ICT sector in generating employment.”

It will be recalled that the National Council on Privatisation had on April 26 directed the Bureau of Public Enterprises to hand over NITEL/MTEL to NATCOM Consortium.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the council presided over by former Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Deputy Chairman of the council’s Technical Committee on Privatisation, Haruna Sambo, made the decision known at a press briefing held after the meeting.

Sambo explained that the directive was given because the preferred bidder had paid the total cost of acquisition of the companies.

He said, “You recall that at the last NCP meeting, approval was made for the financial bid for NITEL/MTEL by the bidder, NATCOM Consortium, at the cost of $252.251m.

“Today (April 26) at the council’s meeting, the council approved the handover to NATCOM Consortium, having paid the cost of acquisition.

“By this approval, the process has come to a closure and the council has mandated the BPE to hand over the two companies to the preferred winner, of course, after all other outstanding issues are taken care of.

“With this, the transaction has come to an end and the council asks the BPE to hand over the two companies to the bid winner, NATCOM Consortium.”

Source : Punch

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