OrderPaperToday – The Senate committee on Privatisation has disclosed that it was bypassed by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) when plans were made to concession some national assets to fund part of the 2021 budget.
Recall that the BPE disclosed details of the concession when it submitted the agency’s 2021 budget to the Senate Committee on November 12.
The following national assets to be commercialised are: National Art Theater and Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), all the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) at N836 million and Nigeria Integrated Power Projects (NIPP), Omotosho, Geregu and Calabar at N434 billion to core investors.
Reacting to it in an interview with journalists on Tuesday, the Chairman of the committee, Theodore Orji said, “during the BPE budget defence before my committee, I complained bitterly that the relationship between our committee and the BPE, has not been very cordial due to the behaviour of the DG, BPE.
“This is a man that if we call him on phone, he would not answer and if we send him a text message, he would not reply. How then does he want us to communicate?
“There should be a synergy between the Senate or its committee on privatisation, and the BPE because that is the major parastatal that we oversight.
“I also believe that that the Senate Committee on Privatisation should be carried along when most of the arrangement to either sell or concession our national assets are being made so that we would be aware.
” Let me assure Nigerians that there is no member of the Senate Committee on privatisation that knows about all these things except they read it on the pages of newspapers.
“We were never briefed by the management of the BPE. We were not there when the necessary documents were signed. We were never invited at all.”
According to the Senator, the Director General of BPE, Alex Oboh “merely apologized” when queried.
He narrated how Oboh repeatedly sidelines the committee.
“When the DG, BPE came to defend his agency’s 2021 budget proposal before us, we asked him why he didn’t invite us at least as witnesses, he merely apologised.
“This is neither the first time nor the second time that such a thing would happen. When it happened the first time, I accosted him and asked him why he prevented us from carrying out our statutory job. However, we felt this is the best time to open up so that tomorrow, Nigerians would not blame the senators for being part of the sale of our national assets, we know nothing about the entire transactions as a committee.
“We want to assure Nigerians that the committee will carry out its functions by summoning the DG, BPE. We would demand for all the documents relating to the entire transactions.
“We would ascertain whether due process was followed. We would also look at the amount that the BPE put up the assets for either outright sale or concession. We would scrutinise the papers to see whether they are fair or ridiculous amounts because what Nigeria as a nation needs now, is money.
“I am not against a situation whereby capable Nigerians buying the national assets so far they would show patriotism in handling it. However, what I am against is a situation whereby the assets would be sold to people who would not be capable of handling them.”