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HOUSE FEARS OVER N250BN NITEL DEBT

By NBF News

The House of Representatives, last week in Abuja, expressed worry over the level of indebtedness of the moribund state-owned Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) currently estimated at about N250 billion.

Chairman, House Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who spoke when the committee met with the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), led by Vice President Namadi Sambo, at the presidential Villa, informed newsmen that the committee's concern stems from the burden it would place on the investor that would buy the government telecommunication company.

Said she: 'Basically, in the forefront of things, we have NITEL, we are all worried about what is going to happen. It is indebted; I mean there is so much debt in NITEL. Whoever is going to buy NITEL will have a lot to deal with.'

She added: 'It is indebted to the tune of about N250 billion, so I mean you are talking about a lot of money and there are a lot of salaries and wages that haven't been paid to staff.

'Beside NITEL, the House also is worried by the state of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria in Ikot Abasi,' adding that there is a lot of staff liability to be taken care of. So there are so many things that needed to be put together and we have agreed that from time to time, we will liaise with the executive arm, that is the NCP to see that it becomes a success.

Though, not faulting the privatisation, she said there must be give and take if the process must succeed. In privatisation, it is a bit of give and take. Government has to play its own role in making sure that the privatisation exercise in this country works, so we are there to ensure that government plays its role in making sure that the privatisation exercise is a success.'

She added: 'so, it is not as if the privatised companies are not doing their own part in trying to see that this works. It is not an easy process, some of them have done very well, some of them have not done really well and some of them just need to heal or closed.

'We are going to consider this with Vice President later on after we have been on our oversight visits to these privatised companies.'