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Senate Defers Consideration Of Report On BPE probe

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….There Will Be Lots Of Pressure - Mark

ABUJA, November 24, (THEWILL) - The Senate today deferred consideration of the report of its ad-hoc committee that probed the privatization and commercialization activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). The committee had turned in damning recommendations that affected major players in the privatization process.

It said it would look at the report on Wednesday next week.

Expectedly, Senate President, Senator David Mark, alerted lawmakers that they should expect enormous pressure in the course of consideration of the report.

Nonetheless, he assured that no amount of politics would deter the Senate from doing what is right; this was even as he described the 177 page report as “very sensitive.”

Mark said that he decided to fast track consideration of the report to avoid the “usual blackmail and ugly insinuations.”

“I am sure if we didn’t take the report today there will be all kinds of blackmail, insinuations and innuendoes. This is a very sensitive report and there will be a lot of pressure. But there will be no ethnicity; no politics will stop us from doing what is right.

“We will take the debate on Wednesday. This is to enable us digest the report. We will take our time to look at the recommendations one after the other,” he stated.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmed Lawan, gave synopsis of how the investigation was carried out and how it arrived at the 45 recommendations.

Lawan noted that close to 60 companies and individuals appeared before the committee.

He also said that members of the committee visited the privatized enterprises for an on the spot assessment.

He noted that the report was presented in six volumes.

Recall THEWILL had reported previously that the panel had recommended the sack of the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ms. Bolanale Onagoruwa, for gross incompetence in the management of the Bureau and for the illegal and fraudulent sale of the 5 percent Federal Government of Nigeria residual shares in Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited (EPCL).

The panel also recommended that the former Directors-General, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Dr. Julius Bala and Mrs. Irene Nkechi Chigbue should be reprimanded by the National Council on Privatization for seeking approval directly from the President instead of the NCP as stipulated in the Public Enterprises Act 1999.

The report further urged Dr. Bala to be investigated by anti-graft agencies for giving approval to Folio Communication Limited for the illegal sale of assets of Daily Times Nigeria Plc, this was even as the panel recommended that the NCP should rescind the sale of Daily Times to Folio in obedience to several court judgments and that the sale of the assets of Daily Times by Folio and its directors be investigated by anti-graft agencies.

The panel also recommended for a holistic re-organization of the management of BPE.

Also speaking at a press conference Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe explained the “pressure” Mark mentioned while commenting on the report.

Abaribe said that the Senate President did not say that Senators are “under pressure in any way.”

What the Senate President said, according to him; “was that it is necessary for the report to be taken today (Thursday) otherwise in our usual manner, our people will engage in speculation.”

He said that most times the speculation will be that the Senate is under pressure to take the report.

“We decided to take it today but because of the volume, 177 pages and like the Senate President said we want to look at the report without fear or favour, no ethnic colouration.

“The debate on Wednesday will also be public and live. Nigerians will have the opportunity to see that we will do justice to the report,” he said.

He congratulated Chairman of the ad hoc committee saying, “You will recall that I came here and assured that in this 7th Senate nothing will be swept under the carpet and that every report will be presented live to Nigerians and that Nigerians will now see that the Senate and indeed the National Assembly is working in their interest.”