by Lekan Olanrewaju
It seems no one is interested in NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Limited), as several failed attempts to sell the company have led the Nigerian Federal Government to decide to liquidate the company.
The decision was approved last week by the National Council on Privatisation, headed by Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo.
“The committee recommended that ‘guided liquidation’ should be adopted as the strategy for the privatisation of NITEL/M-Tel in view of the huge liabilities of both companies and that there was no viable financial alternative presented by the management of NITEL/M-Tel,” said Chukwumah Nwokoh, spokesman for the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
He also said that the National Council on Privatisation supports the Technical Committee’s recommendation of ‘guided liquidation’. According to him, the management of NITEL and its mobile arm M-Tel had been obtaining their salaries from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to reports, the Technical Committee on Information, Communication, National Facilities and Agric Resources has also been directed by the NCP to immediately carry out investigations and ensure that all revenues received were accounted for.
The Federal Government was counting on using money from the liquidation of the company to pay off debts incurred by the company worth N350 billion.
The company’s total liabilities amounted to N73.8bn in 2003, but rose in October 2005 to about N130bn. It has since increased to about N350bn, according to the BPE.
On Friday, the BPE refuted reports of an alleged price tag of $105 million placed on NITEL and its mobile subsidiary, MTEL, saying that the Bureau had no powers to take such a decision without a directive from the National Council on Privatisation.
Well, can’t say we’re surprised. More surprising is why it didn’t happen sooner.