ASCAB Writes Senate, Seeks Reversal Of ‘Fraudulent’ Privatisation Programmes

Withdraw Charges Against CJN, Falana Tells FG
Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana (file)

 

A civil society coalition, Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has written to the Senate, asking the upper chamber to set up an agency that would reverse alleged fraudulent privatisation programmes carried out in the country.

ASCAB in a letter dated April 28 and addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, called on the parliament to mount pressure on the executive to act on its report on Nigeria’s past privatisation programmes.

It will be recalled that the Senate had in 2011 set up a committee to investigate the privatisation and commercialisation activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from 1999 to 2011.

The committee, which was chaired by Senator Lawan, had said it discovered some sharp practices in the exercise, ranging from alleged fraud and abuse of power.

As a result, the upper chamber advised the Federal Government to reverse some of the privatisation programmes.

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But ASCAB’s interim Chairman, Femi Falana, said the Senate should use “legislative tools to put pressure on the Executive” to implement the committee report.

He called on the lawmakers to “enact an Act to facilitate the establishment of a body that would actualize the reversal of all past privatizations which your (Lawan’s) Committee found were characterized by abuses, illegality and fraud.”

“The Senate should use legislative tools to put pressure on the Executive to implement the recommendations of the “REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011,” he said.

“That the National Assembly should enact an Act to facilitate the establishment of a body that would actualize the reversal of all past privatizations which your Committee found were characterized by abuses, illegality and fraud, pursuant to Section 16(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.”

READ THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE SENATE BELOW:

28th April 2021

Senator Ahmad I. Lawan

The Senate President

National Assembly Complex

FCT, Abuja

Dear Sir,

AN OPEN CALL ON THE SENATE PRESIDENT TO PUT LEGISLATIVE PRESSURE ON THE EXECUTIVE TO IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE “REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011” CHAIRED BY SENATOR AHMAD I. LAWAN

ASCAB recalls that in your capacity as a Senator, you chaired the Senate AD-HOC Committee that investigated privatization and commercialization activities from 1999 to 2011.

The verdict of the Committee that you chaired is that the privatization exercise in the period 1999 to 2011 was an abysmal failure in that there were abuses of the prescribed procedure, which facilitated the looting of public assets and transfer of same to private individuals and/or companies.

The confounding findings of your Committee compelled the Committee to call for reversal of listed privatizations and the prosecution of identified individuals, among others.

Coincidentally, you are today the President of the Senate. ASCAB, therefore, calls on you to use your good office to do the following:

  1. That the Senate should use legislative tools to put pressure on the Executive to implement the recommendations of the “REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011”
  2. That the National Assembly should enact an Act to facilitate the establishment of a body that would actualize the reversal of all past privatizations which your Committee found were characterized by abuses, illegality and fraud, pursuant to Section 16(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, which provides as follows:

(3) A body shall be set up by an Act of the National Assembly which shall have power: (a) to review, from time to time, the ownership and control of business enterprises operating in Nigeria and make recommendations to the President on the same; and

(b) to administer any law for the regulation of the ownership and control of such enterprises.

In order to remind the Senate of the findings in the Report of the Senate’s AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011, ASCAB has reproduced some of the key findings of your Committee. They are as contained in the enclosed publication entitled, “The Case Against Privatization”.

ASCAB is committed to partnering with the Senate in popularizing the findings of your Committee and putting public pressure on the Executive arm of Government to implement the Recommendations of your Committee.

We look forward to a collaborative campaign that would lead to a reversal of the dispossession of the public and the taking back from the private sector of the resources that have been fraudulently transferred to private individuals and/or their companies.

Thanks very much for your anticipated cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

Femi Falana, SAN

Interim National Chair

Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB).

Any Attempt To Sell Our National Assets Will Be Resisted – NLC

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) says it would resist an attempt to sell any of the national assets to foreign collaborators.

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wahab stated this on Tuesday during the 12th Delegate Conference of the Congress in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“NLC and the working-class movement have a well-documented position on privatisation.

We have resisted any form of privatisation and any of our assets to be privatised to individuals and their foreign collaborators will be resisted,” he stated.

The Labour leader also condemned reported the move to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

NLC President, Ayuba Wahab

He believes the incessant industrial crisis experienced both in the health and education sectors is a deliberate strategy of some people in government to make the idea of privatization and sales of public assets in Nigeria appealing.

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Also speaking, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, stated that the Federal Government is determined to see to the welfare of Nigerian workers.

“Government is determined to attain the decent work agenda which involves the opportunity for works that are productive and deliver a fair income.

“May I also at this juncture assure the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress of government’s unalloyed support and cooperation towards the struggle for a better workers’ welfare which will invariably enhance the increased productivity and national growth.”

SERAP Asks FG To Investigate Privatisation Corruption Allegations

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to revisit allegations of corruption in the privatisation of public enterprises in Nigeria between 1999-2011.

The group in a statement on Sunday said President Buhari should refer the corruption allegation to the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.

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In the letter signed by its Executive Director, Adetokumbo Mumuni, the organisation urged the president to reform the Bureau of Public Enterprise, to remove opportunities for corruption in privatisation process, and to instruct the EFCC and ICPC to ensure the recovery of proceeds of corruption.

The group claims that many cases of presidential directives/interference during the period under review (1999-2011) affected the process of core investor selection.

“The BPE was negligent and ineffective in the monitoring of privatised companies. In some cases, BPE never monitored the companies for the entire lock-in period and in other cases, their reports were a complete opposite of what was on the ground.

“It is in the public interest that any sales of public assets will get the best value but the Senate report shows exactly the opposite. By revisiting the privatisation process and referring the allegations of corruption documented in the report to the EFCC and ICPC, your government would be demonstrating that it’s willing and able to fight impunity of perpetrators of corruption, which is responsible for legacy of grand corruption and abuse of office in the country,” the statement read in part.

SERAP claims that a total sum of N301billion was realised as proceeds of privatisation from 1999 to 2011.

“N900 million of that was used as loan to Nigeria Re-insurance Plc for recapitalisation, in violation of section 19(2) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act 1999. Folio Communications Limited pledged the assets of Daily Times Nigeria Plc to obtain a loan from bank(s) and utilised the loan to pay for the share of the company.”

The group then threatened to begin a legal proceeding to compel the government to act if President Buhari does not take the requested action within 14 days of receipt of the letter.

FG Approves Privatisation Of Afam Power Plant

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP), chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has approved the commencement of the privatisation of Afam Power plants 1-5 to inject additional power into the national grid and improve electricity nationwide.

The Council during its recently held meeting also approved the pursuit of an out-of-court settlement involving the privatisation of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).

In a statement on Tuesday, Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, said the move aims to resolve the lingering dispute between the Federal Government, BFIG and United Company RUSAL through the mediation of the Secretariat with the active collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

The council during the meeting advised that “the mediation efforts should take a holistic view of the entire sector and the overriding national interests to jumpstart industrial development through the steel sector in arriving at a resolution on the matter.”

Immediate revocation of the concession of Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, and the immediate commencement of a fresh privatisation of Yola Electricity Distribution Company was also approved by the council, during the meeting.

These approvals, the council noted, were aimed at giving traction to key infrastructure facilities in the country that are presently under concessions, but have been adjudged to be performing sub-optimally.

Other key decisions taken by the council include the approval of the amendments to the Work Plan for the conclusion of the transaction involving the concessioning of Terminal “B” Warri Old Port and approval of commencement of the reform and commercialisation of the River Basins Development Authorities.

“The restructuring of the BOA is in alignment with the Government’s desire to make financing options readily available to farmers for an aggressive diversification of the Nigerian economy,” the council stated.

Fashola Tasks Distribution Companies To Raise Capital

FasholaThe Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has asked power distribution companies to sell parts of their shareholdings to new investors to raise capital to sustain operations.

Power distribution firms complain of serious financial constraints due to heavy bank loans secured for the privatisation three years ago.

But according to the Minister, some of the options open to the power firms include special placement, offer for sale, initial public offering or bond flotation.

The federal government owns between 30 and 35 percent shares in all the privatised distribution companies.

Electricity Workers Urge Buhari To Probe PHCN Privatisation

electricityAggrieved disengaged workers of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company have called on President Muhammadu Buhari led government to  review  the privatisation of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the former administration.

The workers, under the umbrella of National Union of Electricity Employees, (NUEE), alleged that the privatisation project was fraught with irregularities and urged the federal government to revisit the exercise.

Addressing the aggrieved workers of the company on Saturday in Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria, Vice President of  the Union, Sikamta Ali criticised the management of Kaduna electricity of stopping workers from participating in union activities and introducing casualisation policy as against the Nigerian Labour laws.

The workers also argued that if after many months, privatisation of electricity in the country had failed to bring positive impact to electricity consumers, then there was need for President Buhari to revisit the programme.

They called on the management of Kaduna Electric to recall over one thousand staff  that were disengaged last month, and to also allow workers participate in union activities.

Spokesman for Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, Abdulaziz Abdullahi said the casual workers were inherited from the former PHCN, with some of them are now fully employed in its workforce.

Technical And Economic Regulation Of Nigeria’s Power Sector

NERC Sam AmadiWith the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s power sector, particularly the privatisation of generation and distribution companies, there are expectations of a truly liberalized market in which consumers will mostly pay for services that they enjoy, while service providers will strive for quality operations.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, was set up to undertake technical and economic regulation of this industry.

The commission is to license operators, determine operating codes and standards, establish customer rights and obligations and set tariffs.

NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, is our guest on this edition of ‘View From The Top’.

NUPENG, PENGASSAN Reverse Strike Decision

The Trade Unions in the oil and gas sector would not be embarking on the industrial action, in protest of the Federal Government’s plan to sell the country’s refineries.

The leadership of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association PENGASSAN and NUPENG reached this decision after a 5-hour close door meeting with the Ministers of Petroleum and Labour.

Reading the communiques after the meeting, the Minister of Labour, Mister Emeka Wogu, said that Government would not sell the nation’s refineries.

In his reaction, the President of PENGASSAN, Babatunde Ogun told Channels Television that the agreement would serve as evidence to Nigerians that they (unions) are not trouble makers if the government decides to go back on its promise. He expressed confidence that the Federal Government can effectively manage the refineries if it makes the required investments and decisions.

“If government cannot keep to agreement, it means that government is not really serious…. If you are supposed to do something and you don’t do it for almost 10 to 14 years, then you cannot say government cannot run it (refineries),” he said, adding that “if they have challenges about funds, we can always look for funds.

Also, President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese said the “materials for the turn-around maintenance of the Port Harcourt refineries are on ground already and that’s why we are confident that in this first quarter, the Port Harcourt refinery turn-around maintenance will be concluded and then we can be thinking of the next one.”

FG Denies Plan To Sell Refineries

The reported approval by Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, for the sale of the nation’s four refineries has been denied by the Presidency.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, told journalists at the Presidential Villa that President Goodluck Jonathan has not given and does not plan to give approval to that effect.

The oil and gas workers unions had threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action following the announcement that the four refineries had been slated for privatisation in 2014 by the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE.

Mr. Abati, however, dismissed the threat by the oil and gas workers, insisting that if the reason for the proposed strike is the issue of the refineries, then the action would not take place.

An attempt to sell the refineries was first made during the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, but the decision was reversed by his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’adua.

Also, a presidential committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan in the wake of the corruption scandal in the oil and gas industry had recommended the sale of the refineries as a way to avoid the wastage of government funds.

There had been news that the President has approved the constitution of a steering committee chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources with 13 members including the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Minister of Power, Minister of Labour and Minister of National Planning, to oversee the privatisation process.

The national bodies of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, (NUPENG) had announced plans by their associations to commence an industrial action in the first week of January 2014, if the Federal Government failed to rescind its alleged decision to privatise the refineries.

They claimed that the planned privatisation was an attempt to hand over the nation’s refineries to cronies of the Federal Government.

FG To Boost Power With 4,700 Megawatts In 2014 – Igali

On the background of the privatization of the power sector and the recent handing over of the physical assets to the co-investors, ‘View From The Top’ on Channels Television takes a look at the privatisation journey in Nigeria since the birth of the idea in 1999.

The programme on this edition plays host to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali.

The focus is on the Nigerian power sector and the question is what is next after the handing over to investors?

With successive governments having failed to deliver on their promises of providing Nigerians with constant power supply, pessimistic views are still being expressed by many Nigerians on the possibility of a change in fortune.

Igali blamed the situation on the poor maintenance of public infrastructure and budget limitations. While also admitting that government is not the best manger of assets, he stressed that underinvestment in the sector has been the major factor behind the constant failure.

He said: “Government is not formed to manage business. Power sector is a business, and government’s role should be that of providing leadership, direction, regulation and allow the businessmen to do business.”

He credited the latest successful handover to the proactive efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan. According to him, he “energized and reactivated the process” which fast tracked the public competitive bidding processes.

Ambassador Igali also spoke in details about the efforts being made by the Federal Government to sustain the privatisation structure and the infrastructural development plans.

He also encouraged Nigerians to have faith in the system.

Okupe Assures Of Uninterrupted Power Supply Before Year End

The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe has assured again that the era of shortage in power supply in most part of the nation will come to an end before the end of the year, as uninterrupted power supply which is the dream of any citizen of any country; Nigerians inclusive will become a reality in Nigeria.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, Okupe explained further that on the issue of achieving uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria, the president is not resting on his oars to see that it becomes a reality, but expressed disappointment that the highly transparent and professional manner in which President Jonathan handled the privatization of the power sector is lost on the public in spite of the commendations of the global business community especially international investors.

He said the new owners of the divested assets of Power Holding Company of Nigeria will utilize the presently installed capacities more efficiently and add more power to the 5,000 megawatts already being generated by the country.

Committee Will Work With Executive On Privatised Assets– Sen. Olugbenga

The Senate Committee on Privatisation is looking at ways it can work with the executive arm of government to make sure that all the privatised enterprises are taken through international standards best practiced.

This is the information conveyed by Senator Olugbenga Obadara;  the Chairman Senate Committee on Privatisation, while he was guest on Business programme Business Morning live from the Abuja studios.

The Federal Government has come under so much pressure when it comes to the way the disposition of government’s assets which in the view of some Nigerians would be better managed by entrepreneurs or the private sector.

The senator said the senate committee on privatisation is making sure that due diligence are being taken and rules be adhered to thoroughly, as this will make sure the nation is not short-changed in anyway.

Watch complete interview for more details.