Senate Probe of BPE…What I did not say - Irene Chigbue


My attention has been drawn to several misrepresentations in the media of my testimony before the just concluded public hearing by the Ad-hoc Committee of the Senate on the activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from 1999 to date.

As the fifth Director General of BPE who held sway between 2005 and 2009, I had the privilege of privatising over 90 enterprises in over 110 transactions with gross proceeds of about N200 billion. Sectoral Reforms in all the infrastructure sectors were also undertaken and sector policies, bills were drafted for the Ports, Railways, Aviation, Postal, Minerals, Oil/Gas and Power Sectors.  A draft bill for Anti-Trust and Competition was also finalised. Practical steps were taken to implement the Electric Power Reform Act by setting up of NERC, NELMCO and unbundling and corporatisation of NEPA as PHCN.

At no time during my presentation and testimony before the Senate ad-hoc Committee last Saturday did I state that due process was not followed in any of the enterprises privatised under my watch. What I did state was that since the core investor of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) had failed to undertake the dredging of Imo River channel, then a breach of the term of sale has taken place.

On privatisation proceeds, I did not concede that the BPE had breached the provisions of the law as I explained that BPE's construction of the relevant provisions of the Act since 1999 was that the proceeds refer to net proceeds. I also stated that the proceeds were kept in the banks funding the transactions until all necessary deductions for payment of all liabilities before transfer to CBN Accounts.  I mentioned that in some instances, bidders were refunded their payments as in Refineries and Nigeria Unity Line as well as payments for gratuities, pensions and salary arrears of workers.

On the matter of writing to both President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar, I did not state that I was ordered by the former to ignore the latter. I explained that before my appointment, some memoranda were sent to the President. Memoranda sent to the Vice President were also copied the President. From early 2007, there was a vacuum and memoranda were sent to Mr. President until the then Honourable Minister of Finance assumed the position of Acting Chairman of NCP in accordance with the law.

It would be appreciated if this clarification is offered to the public.

Mrs. Irene N. Chigbue
Former DG, BPE
August 15, 2011