- Absence of Council Impeding Privatisation Process
The failure of the Federal Government to constitute the National Council on Privatisation is taking its toll on the scheduled privatisation of some of the nation’s ailing assets.
The NCP, which is usually chaired by the Vice President, oversees the process of privatisation, takes critical decisions affecting the process and supervises the work of the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
Our correspondent reports that 22 months after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office; he has not been able to constitute the NCP, which is usually made up of the Vice President, some ministers and some technical members.
Investigation showed that since the administration took over power on May 29, 2015, the BPE had not been able to carry out any transaction except the conclusion of the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, which had reached a concluding stage before the end of the tenure of the previous administration.
One of the enterprises slated for privatisation that has been affected by the failure to constitute the NCP is the Ajaokuta Steel Complex. The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, recently said that the complex would never be run by the government again.
Although, he did not disclose when the Federal Government would invite bids from prospective core investors, Fayemi listed some of the criteria to be met by anyone willing to invest in the steel complex.
He said experts with proven track records and required financial capability would be encouraged to key into the scheme through a competitive bidding process that would be transparent.
However, a Presidency source, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that would not happen without the NCP.
“People have been debating about the sale of national assets and the sale of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex. It is the NCP that takes such decisions. When the council has not been constituted, how can Ajaokuta or any other enterprise be privatised?” the source stated.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that a number of transactions at the BPE were being hampered as a result of the absence of the NCP.
These transactions include the stalemated sale of the National Independent Power Project plants, the river basin authorities and the national parks.
Our correspondent also learnt that the absence of the NCP had created a confused atmosphere with some ministers taking privatisation issues straight to the President for approval.
At the Ministry of Transportation, for instance, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, recently constituted the Project Steering Committee and Project Delivery Committee to handle the concession of some airports.
Sirika is the Chairman of the Project Steering Committee, which has the responsibility to provide the general direction and steer the course of Public-Private Partnership concessions in the aviation sector.
Sirika said the driving force behind the Federal Government’s resolve to concession the airports was the over-riding national interest in ensuring the establishment and sustenance of world class standards in infrastructural development and service delivery.
The Ministry of Transportation has also been in negotiation with investors for the concession of some rail lines.