Presidency names board for NITEL, Labour seeks trial of officials

No Comments » June 3rd, 2009 posted by // Categories: ICT Industry Development Project



Wednesday, June 03, 2009 
Presidency names board for NITEL, Labour seeks trial of officials

From Madu Onuorah, Collins Olayinka (Abuja) and Dele Fanimo (Abuja)

A DAY after the Federal Government voided the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) Plc to Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP), the Presidency yesterday approved the constitution of a Technical Board of Management for the distressed telecom giant.
In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President (Media and Publicity), Mr. Ima Niboro, said the technical board will be responsible for the daily administration of NITEL and its subsidiary, M-Tel, pending the completion of the ongoing core investor sale process.
Members of the board are the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Communications who would be the chairman, Dr. Christopher Anyanwu, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Steve Oronsaye (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance), Acting Managing Director of NITEL (to be appointed), Ibrahim Kashim (Director, Information and Communications, BPE), Mr. Sam Worlu, Senior Special Adviser on Economics to the Vice President (Representative of the Chairman, National Council on Privatisation) and the Managing Director, NIGCOMSAT Ltd.

Also yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) urged the government to prosecute persons responsible for the present precarious state of the once vibrant parastatal.

In a statement issued by its General Secretary, John Odah, in Abuja yesterday, NLC said the action of the government was very timely, adding that it was a bold step towards returning NITEL to its golden days.

The statement read in part: “The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) commends the Federal Government for finally taking the inevitable decision to reverse the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) to the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp). Within four months of the questionable sale in November 2006, it was clear to all that Transcorp lacked the managerial and technical competence to run NITEL.”

The Abdulwaheed Omar-led body said more worrying to all Nigerians was the fact that the sale itself was clothed in controversy as Transcorp, which supposedly paid $500 million or 50 per cent of the cost, made claims to 75 per cent of the company.

While accusing Transcorp management of incompetence and insincerity of purpose, the NLC declared that this manifested in its inability to make the required injection of funds within 100 days of the sale and contrary to its claims, had no international technical partner to run NITEL.
It added: “With manifest incompetence, asset-stripping and non-payment of workers’ wages, only political considerations and a lack of will prevented the sale reversal within the first six months.”

Given the fact that NITEL in 2002 with 553,471 functional lines and an income of N53.41 billion was a viable company, the NLC demanded that all those who directly or indirectly contributed to running it aground should be investigated and charged to court. Those to be investigated should include the men and women who mortgaged NITEL to the PENTASCOPE team in 2003.

Labour advised the government and the new NITEL board to accept only unpaid salaries as liabilities while the over $500 million debt owed by Transcorp should be borne by the firm.

The Congress also appealed to government to order the immediate recall of all Labour leaders in NITEL sacked by Transcorp between March and April 2009.

Similarly, the House of Representatives Committee on Information and Communications has endorsed Globacom’s bid to acquire NITEL.
Members of the committee, who spoke during a facility tour of Globacom in Lagos, stated that the company had the technical competence and human resource to turn around the fortunes of the ailing first national operator.

They noted that Globacom had performed beyond expectation and had made every Nigerian proud. They argued that the Nigerian company should be given a chance to salvage what was left of the once thriving national operator.

Mr. Patrick Ikhariale, a member of the committee and the deputy chairman of the House Committee on Justice, stated: “Glo has shown it has the capacity and technology in bringing accelerated development in Nigeria’s telecommunications industry. This is evident from the success it has recorded in the last six years and making possible what other telecom companies said was not possible. I am sure that if given a chance, the company will replicate its success story with NITEL.”

Meanwhile, Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC) has expressed appreciation to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan for rescuing the national carrier from Transcorp.

President of SSACTAC, Mr. Adetunji Adesunkanmi, during a press briefing at the national secretariat of the union yesterday in Lagos, said the action ought to have come earlier, he was still full of praises to the Presidency for its intervention.

Adesunkanmi urged the government to clarify its position on the revival of the ailing firm.

He said the clarification by NCP that “Transcorp left NITEL in a mess” was just a confirmation of the union’s earlier position that the core investor lacked the necessary technical and financial capability to run the national carrier.

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