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Only N146b Realized From Sale Of 122 Privatized Companies - BPE

Source: EMMA UCHE, THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
BPE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, MS. BOLANLE ONAGURUWA AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ORGANIZED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING THE PRIVATIZATION PROCESS ON MONDAY, AUGUST 08, 2011.
BPE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, MS. BOLANLE ONAGURUWA AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ORGANIZED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING THE PRIVATIZATION PROCESS ON MONDAY, AUGUST 08, 2011.
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ABUJA, August 09, (THEWILL) - The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in Abuja Monday told the Senate that only N146billion was realized from the sale of public companies.

It was also revealed that Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ASCON), Ikot Abasi which is worth $3.2 billion (N460 billion) was sold to Russell, a Russian company by BPE, for only $250 million in 2006, though the company was asked to pay $130 million by the bureau and use the balance of $120million to dredge the Imo River for the movement of their goods.

But worried Senate asked Russell to refund the $120 million to the Federal Government since they failed to dredge the river and instead opted to be routing their goods through Onne Port in Rivers State.

These were the high points of disclosures made at the public hearing on the Commercialization and Privatization activities of the BPE organized by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee investigating the privatisation process.

Speaking on oath on the first day of the hearing, Director General of BPE, Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa also said the BPE was not responsible for the concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Company as it was done by the Ministry of Power and Steel in 2006 by fiat.

She told the senators that the sum of N146 billion was computed after deduction of labour liabilities. Her submission was even against the backdrop of major protest at the National Assembly complex by the Association of Contractors owed by NITEL/M-TELL. President of the association Kabiru Musa and Secretary, Sylvanus Onwuna submitted that investors must stay off the sale of NITEL/M-TELL until their debt was paid in accordance with a subsisting law suit seeking there liquidation.

On ALSCON, Onagoruwa explained that the valuation of the company took into into cognizance the over inflation of the contract of constructing the company, meaning that the $3.2 billion spent to set up the gigantic project may not have reflected the actual value of the company at the point of sale.

However, she told the lawmakers that the problem of the company currently is gas supply by the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC).

Nonetheless, the Deputy Managing Director of Russell, Mr. Vitali Kuznetsov submitted that since 2008 ALSCO witnessed six stoppages, which has resulted in complete loss of production adding that in every case, to restore the situation to its state requires total re-conditioning which comes at a huge investment. He further stated that Russel has so far invested about $91 million in the project, which is yet to operate at full capacity.

In the same vein, a former Managing Director of Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Senator Fred Brume, alleged that the company bought by Global Infrastructure in 2005 did not comply with due process. He said the company was valued at $30 million with Global Infrastructure having controlling shares of 80 percent while the federal Government was left with 20 percent.

Declaring the public hearing open, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, lamented the state of the privatized companies after their sale.

“It has been indeed of great concern to the Senate that most of the privatised companies are under performing. That is our own perception and that is the perception of so many Nigerians. But not all Nigerians think so. I have read some articles, where people feel that the privatised companies or privatisation exercise went very well and that everything is working very well.

“So, most of you, who are members of this committee, please, don’t think that everybody agrees with you. The chairman has noted that the privatised companies have not been working well. It is not a matter of one or two privatised companies that are doing well, the issue is whether the whole privatisation exercise has achieved its intended objectives. I think that is the thrust of the matter. If one or two companies are performing well and about hundred other companies are not performing well, it means that the exercise has been a failure,” Mark stated.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ahmed Lawan directed the BPE to furnish it with audited accounts of all the privatised companies, even as he announced that former DG, BPE, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai would appear before the committee on Thursday as he was said to be out of the country on medical treatment.