The House of Representatives on Wednesday directed the National Council of Privatization (NCP) and the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) to suspend the sale of the Nigeria Telecommunications Communication (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTEL).
This according to the lawmakers will help to forestall the recurring trend of selling national assets at ridiculous prices.
The lawmakers were concerned that both the NCP and the BPE endorsed a ‘guided liquidation strategy’ for the sale of the two companies at an amount that is far less than the cost of procuring a GSM licence anywhere in the world.
They argued that considering the assets of NITEL and MTEL, which are spread across the country, the sale figures approved by the Federal Government do not reflect the true status of both companies.
The House therefore asked its ‘Committees on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Communications, Public Procurement, Finance and Information Technology to conduct a public hearing on the liquidation of Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTEL), present management board, operational activities, present status of its investment in some regional and global telecommunication organisations, revenue generation from on-going services rendered to other telecommunication companies in Nigeria’.
Sponsor of the motion, Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) said while efforts by successive administrations to privatise the company were futile, winners of previous bid processes by the BPE failed to meet the prescribed deadline for payment of bid prices.
He said both the National Council on Privatisation and the BPE have undervalued and under-priced NITEL and MTEL without taking into cognizance strategic economic indicators.
He added that if NITEL/MTEL were sold as prescribed, “it will be at great economic loss to Nigeria, considering the telecommunication companies’ investment in some regional and global organizations.”
Leo Ogor of Delta State and Sekonte Davis of Rivers also supported the motion saying that public investigation should be carried out.
The motions to order NCP and BPE to suspend the sale of NITEL pending the outcome of the investigation was adopted after it was put to vote by the deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha