Nigeria: FG Puts NITEL/M-Tel’s Liabilities At U.S.$3 Billion

The Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Dikki, Wednesday put the total liabilities of the comatose Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile phone arm, M/Tel, at over $3 billion (about N465 billion).

But he said the real value of the company was yet to be determined because no valuation process had taken place. The estimated cost of the guided liquidation was put at about N160 billion.

His disclosure came on a day the Senate Committee on Privatisation voiced its opposition to the proposed ‘guided liquidation’ option for the privatisation of both telecommunications outfits.

It was also disclosed that all PHCN workers had now been issued their benefit statements in respect of their severance entitlements. About 85 per cent of the workers were said to have returned the pay slips after confirmation without complaint; thus paving the way for their final settlement.

Speaking during a presentation of its 2013 approved work plan to the committee, which was on a working visit to the privatisation agency, Dikki also said total revenue from the sale of successor companies unbundled from PHCN was estimated at about N472.9 billion while the estimated labour cost was valued at about N384.2 billion, leaving the government with an estimated net revenue of about N88.7 billion.

According to him, the sale of the 10 distribution and five generation firms under privatisation was expected to generate about N414.2 billion while Egbin Power Plant alone was estimated to cost about N58.7 billion.

It was however gathered that the roadmap for the liquidation of Nitel/Mtel including evaluation proposals, filing of legal papers for its liquidation as well as transfer of assets to liquidator had already been designed.

But, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, said the entire Senate was against the guided liquidation option because it sought to further ‘kill’ the company.

He said President Goodluck Jonathan had in a recent meeting with Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Mobolaji Johnson, Mr. Jim Ovia and former vice-chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Ernest Ndukwe, pointed out that the future of the country in terms of technology relied heavily on broadband generation.

Obadara therefore, wondered why NITEL, which had the SAT-3 satellite communication infrastructure needed to boost broadband penetration in the country, would be sold. He said the senate would take all necessary steps to reverse the proposed guided liquidation alternative for sale of the telecommunications firms.

Obadara said: “It will be difficult for the senate to rescind our decisions. We have said guided liquidation or you taking it to the court to liquidate it, means you killed it.

“You want to liquidate such a company, my people, I cannot explain it. The right of way which NITEL has is huge, and you want to liquidate such. And we are talking of more than 5,000 properties in Nigeria and many others and you want to liquidate such”, he added.

Thisday

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