Senate To Probe BPE Over Non-Performance Of Paper Mills

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The Senate has mandated its Committee on Privatization to investigate the operations and non-performance of paper mills sold by the Bureau of Public Enterprises to private interests.

This was just as the Upper Chamber rejected a call on the Federal Government to establish Federal Paper Mills in each Geo-political zone of the country.

The decision was reached on Tuesday, following the consideration of a motion on “the need to revive the Moribund Paper Mills in Nigeria.”

Sponsor of the motion, Senator Stephen Ekpenyong (PDP – Akwa Ibom North-West) recalled that Nigeria’s three Paper Mills: Nigeria Paper Mill (NPM) Kwara State, Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC) Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria National Paper Manufacturing Company, Ogun State were established by the Federal Government in the 1960s and 1970s.

According to the lawmaker, the mills produced corrugated cartons, sack craft paper, kraft paper, linear and chipboard as well as fluting media to meet the country’s needs in writing and printing papers.

Ekpeyong noted that the Paper Mills were privatized by Government as a result of non-performance and lack of adequate funds to run them, adding that “paper production is one of the major activities regarded as a pointer to industrialization and educational development worldwide, making the sector a major booster to our economy.”

He expressed concern that “the sector has gone moribund since privatization, leaving the country with another huge income deficit.”

“The companies who bought these mills have either abandoned them or not been able to revive them to full capacity making the country depend on imported papers,” the lawmaker said.

Ekpeyong added that “recent statistics by the Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC) indicate that Nigeria lost over N800 billion annually to paper importation, while the Printers Association of Nigeria put the figure at $1 trillion US dollars annually through the importation of over one million metric tons of paper at the cost of $1,000 US dollars per tones.”

According to him, the Mills formerly had a workforce of over 300,000 people and an investment worth over N100 billion before the privatisation policy by the government.

He expressed further worry that the unhealthy state of the printing industry is adversely affecting the education sector.

“Statistics show that over 100 million books are required annually in the country for the 20 million students in schools and by the National Book Policy, five books are the requirement set per pupil. Seventy-five per cent of these books are printed outside the country.

“This is because the printers make more money printing abroad because duty on importation of published books is zero per cent while importation of paper as raw materials into the country is up to 30 per cent,” Ekpeyong said.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remark, called on the Committee on Privatization to summon the Bureau of Public Enterprises to probe the non-performance of Paper Mills in the country.

Court Orders Remand Of BPE DG In Correctional Facility For Disobedience

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered that the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh, be remanded in a correctional facility for a minimum of 30 days.

Justice Anwuri Chikere gave the order on Tuesday while ruling on contempt proceedings against the BPE and its director-general.

BFIG, the preferred bidder for the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), had initiated the suit against the BPE and Okoh in April.

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ALSCON which is located at Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom State has been the subject of an ownership struggle since the government privatised the firm in 2004.

Ruling on the matter, Justice Chikere accused Okoh of serial disobedience of the Supreme Court order on the controversy surrounding the ownership of ALSCON.

She held that the continued refusal to obey the Supreme Court order was a fundamental violation of the rule of law, which portrayed the government as lawless.

Russia’s Rusal had claimed ownership of the company while the indigenous BFIG won a Supreme Court ruling backing its ownership claim.

Despite multiple court rulings, the Nigerian Government, represented by the privatisation agency, BPE, has refused to transfer ownership of the firm to BFIG.

BFIG won the initial bid in 2004 but the BPE cancelled the process in controversial circumstances.

The preferred bidder, thereafter, won a legal battle to reclaim ALSCON in a judgment by the Supreme Court on July 6, 2012.

FG Re-Inaugurates Privatisation Council

The Federal Government has reconstituted the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) after two years since its assumption of power.

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who chairs the NCP noted that the council had handled the privatisation and reformation of 142 public enterprises since inception.

This was made known in a statement from the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

According to the statement, the absence of the council in the last two years had prevented scheduled privatisation transactions as other agencies of government had taken over such responsibilities.

Osinbajo pointed out that the inauguration of the NCP is a critical step in the process of putting in place part of the institutional framework necessary for the actualisation of the socio-economic agenda of the administration.

“It is also a demonstration of our administration’s commitment to public sector reform and the central role of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) in this process. Even though the public sector has been at the centre stage in the provision of critical infrastructure and services cutting across the whole spectrum of the nation’s life since independence, the emerging importance and centrality of the private sector to the actualization of the economic agenda of the administration cannot be downplayed,”

The Acting President stated that apart from playing a dominant role of generating employment opportunities, the intervention of the private sector enhances the process of industrialisation, delivers critical infrastructure and services the country.

To him, the role can only be unleashed when government’s role of regulating and creating an enabling environment is robustly undertaken. “This will, in turn, offer the private sector the required comfort and assurance to make investments and expect a reasonable return on thereon,” he said.

He, therefore, pledged the administration’s commitment to giving all the required support to the NCP in carrying out its statutory responsibilities.

“In return, the Government expects the NCP to come up with creative out-of-the-box solutions for addressing the numerous challenges facing the privatisation and commercialisation programme such as non-performance by some privatised enterprises and post-privatisation challenges facing some of the privatised enterprises.

“The Government also expects the NCP to make measurable progress in respect of the outstanding transactions affecting some of the areas critical to the economic recovery of the nation. You must make deliberate and conscious efforts to learn from past experiences and guard against avoidable mistakes of the past,” he added.

Privatised Companies Should Be Listed On NSE – BPE

Nigerian Stock ExchangeThe Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) says privatised government entities are to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, although it has raised concerns on the stability and the prospects of realising good value for the firms via listing.

The BPE Director General, Mr Alex Okoh said this when he received members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange technical committee on new listings.

The NSE new listings committee was in Abuja to seek collaboration with the BPE to increase the number of listings on the stock exchange via privatisation.

Mr Okoh told the committee that the BPE’s reform structure and privatisation process envisages the listing of privatised enterprises as their final outcome.

El-Rufai Supports Auction Of Non-Productive National Assets

Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, AssetsAs the controversy to privatise some of Nigeria’s assets rages on, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, says a sale to boost liquidity would be in order.

The Governor, who is a former Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), made the observation on Tuesday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

However, he recommended that only non-productive assets should be sold.

Governor El-Rufai also condemned critics of the proposed plan whom he said should not just take ideological positions to analyse the privatisation.

Instead, he asked them to propose solutions to help Nigeria out of its present economic recession.

Area Of Focus

Meanwhile, an economist, Mr Bayo Rotimi, has highlighted the area of focus the government should consider in its proposed privatisation plan.

He advised the government to focus on institutions “that have constituted themselves into a drain pipe on the national treasury”, especially those that the Nigerian tax payers were keeping afloat.

Mr Rotimi also asked Nigerians to hold the government accountable on how the proceeds from the sale of assets would be utilised.

He criticised the idea of individual ministries selling their own assets, stressing that “the law has empowered the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the BPE to carry that out”.

The economist further emphasised the need for the preferred bidders to have the required technical capacity, the ‘management know how’ and the financial muscle to run the institutions effectively.

Nigeria Should Privatise Assets Through Proper Channels – Bayo Rotimi

Bayo-Rotimi-Nigeria-Assets-PivatisationAs Nigerians continue to react to the Federal Government’s proposed plan to sell some of its assets, an economic and financial analyst believes the process should be carried out properly and with utmost transparency.

Channels Television hosted Mr Bayo Rotimi on Tuesday who observed that the only way the government could earn the trust of its people was to let the privatisation of its institutions go through the proper channels.

“Government Must Deliver”

He noted that the law had provided for the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to be in charge of sale of government assets.

“Essentially for government to earn the trust of its people, the government must deliver on what it says.

“I am insisting (that privatisation) goes through proper channels; through the NCP and the BPE.

“Let us, the people of Nigeria, monitor the process (and) let us flag any irregularities that we notice (and) let us hold the bidders accountable,” he said.

Hold Government Accountable

The economist also asked the citizens to hold the government accountable on how the proceeds from the sale of assets would be utilised.

He criticised the idea of individual ministries selling their own assets, reiterating that “the law has empowered the NCP and the BPE to carry that out.

“The citizenry has to be alive to their responsibilities.

“I believe that citizens must hold their government accountable.

“If the privatisation agencies sell assets that belong to the collective, first and foremost, we must see that those assets were sold through a transparent process.”

“Drain Pipe On The National Treasury”

Bayo-Rotimi-Nigeria-Assets-Pivatisation2Mr Rotimi further stressed the need for the preferred bidders to have the required technical capacity, the ‘management know how’ and the financial muscle to run the institutions effectively.

He asked the government to focus its proposed privatisation plan on institutions “that have constituted themselves into a drain pipe on the national treasury”, especially those that the Nigerian tax payers were keeping afloat.

“With regards to potential sale of stake in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), personally, I do not support that (because) it is a company that is thriving.

“It is a company that is delivering dividend to the Nigerian people and those dividends have come in very handy in the last year and it will continue for the foreseeable future,” the economist said on Sunrise Daily.

Court Defers Ruling On Suit Filed Against PHCN

Court, PHCNThe National Industrial Court sitting in Akure has ‎adjourned the case filed by the disengaged staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) against the company.

The ruling on the matter was postponed till October 18, 2016, after the court heard from counsels of both parties on Wednesday in Ondo State, southwest Nigeria.

The electricity employees were led by the President of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Ondo ‎State chapter, Clement Daudu.

The staff, numbering 75 were in court to challenge their alleged disengagement since 2013 without following due process and non-payment of their severance packages.

Joined in the suit as second, third and fourth defendants were the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the National Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO).

Senate To Investigate Manitoba/TCN Deal

Senate-TCNThe Senate is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the preparation, execution and implementation of the management services contract for the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

The Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) transferred the management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to the Hydro International Nigeria Limited, also called Manitoba.

A Federal lawmaker, Senator Mohammed Hassan, alleged that the management services contract prepared by the BPE for the management of TCN by Manitoba is fraught with illegalities and total violation of the laws of the country.

Senator Hassan also claimed that Manitoba does not pay taxes on the monies it receives under the management services contract.

Ex Staff Of Jebba Paper Mill Protest Non Payment Of Entitlement By BPE

LoadThumbTopNewsSome ex- staff of Nigerian Paper Mill Jebba in Kwara State have staged a protest against what they call “underpayment and non payment of their entitlement by Bureau of Public Service”(BPE) since 13 years.

The demonstrators carried various placards explaining that those entitled to 2million naira were paid 30,000 naira, thereby calling on the Federal Government and BPE to intervene.

One of the ex-staff ,who is blind, lamented about how he lost most of his relatives while trying to find a cure for his blindness saying  he is left with nobody to feed him.

The former workers of Nigerian Paper Mill Jebba have called on the President to intervene as the Former staff who were three thousand had reduced to one thousand due to deaths.

New Owners of Kaduna Electricity DisCo To Take Over October 6

Kaduna Electricity

Baring any last minute hitches, the preferred bidder of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), Northwest Power Limited, (NPL) will take over ownership of the company upon completion of the 75% bid price on October 6, 2014.

Managing Director of the distribution company, Mr Idris Mohammed, told a news conference on Monday that North West Consortium Limited, which emerged as the preferred bidder for the company during the privatisation exercise last year, had already paid 25 per cent of the Share Purchase Agreement in last June and is expected to complete the remaining 75 per cent by first week of October to enable it take over the company fully.

The Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) had extended up till October 6, for the preferred bidder to pay the remaining 75% of its bid price after failing to meet two previous deadlines which elapsed last August.

The Managing Director also disclosed that three injector power sub stations in the state would be commissioned on September 29 as part of efforts by the company to improve electricity supply to residents of the state.

Earthfile: Alternative Electricity Generation In Nigeria

Power Sector - LanternNigerians complain about crazy electricity bills, how difficult it is to get the prepaid meters, and even lack of electricity or light as it is called here.

Most people know that the problem in the power sector is great, but several calls have been made for Nigeria to look for alternative sources in its electricity generation.

The options are our focus on this edition of Earthfile.

Power Sector: Vice President Promises More Private Sector Investment

Vice President Namadi Sambo has reaffirmed Government’s commitment towards creating an enabling environment that would encourage private sector investment into the power sector.

In a press release signed by the Head, Public Communications at the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, Chigbo Anichebe, the Vice President, who is also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization (NCP), said that the challenges facing the electricity sector in Nigeria were enormous.

He however maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is committed and determined to keep “its promise of taking Nigeria out of its perennial darkness within the shortest possible period”.

While commending the roles of the NCP, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and other key stakeholders for the actualization of the handover, the Vice President reminded the new owners to keep to the agreed covenants.

According to him, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)  and the BPE would  continually monitor the operations of the successor companies, with a view to sanctioning  any core investor that does not deliver on  the performance agreement that was executed with the government.