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NITEL/Mtel resale : VP gives new board 60-day ultimatum

By Daniel Idonor

Abuja – VICE President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, inaugurated the new board for the government-owned moribund communication company, NITEL/Mtel, with a 60-day marching order on the new board to take immediate steps towards making the ailing company more attractive to investors preparatory to its resale.

The Federal Government had early this year revoked the 51 per cent equity stake of Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) in Nitel/Mtel, citing a breach of the Share Sale Purchase Agreement (SSPA) among others.

Inaugurating the interim board chaired by Ammuna Ali, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Vice President Jonathan warned that on no account should the board embark on new projects until the company was handed over to the new core investor.

Jonathan said: “The president has given an unwritten order that we must conclude the privatisation of Nitel and Mtel within 60 days, but if we cannot achieve what we have to do within the 60 days, we can write to him and explain.

“You do not need to go into new investments, but if there are some critical things you need to do, you can clear with my office,” the VP warned.The board has 60 days to shore up the ailing company.

This follows Monday’s revocation of the sale of 51 per cent of the shares of NITEL/MTEL to Transcorp Plc.

Other members of the board are Christopher Anyanwu, Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE);Steve Oronsaye, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; Acting Managing Director of NITEL (to be appointed); Ibrahim Kashim, Director, Information and Communication, BPE; Sam Worlu, SSA on Economic Matters to VP to represent Jonathan on the board; the NCP and the Managing Director, NIGCOMSAT Limited.

Jonathan acknowledged that the issue of Nitel and Mtel “is something that had been very disturbing to the nation,” stressing that President Umaru Yar’Adua  directed that the interim board be inaugurated as soon as possible to fast-track the process of  appointment of the core investor.

He admitted that “over a period of time, a lot of things have gone wrong in NITEL and Mtel and, therefore, urged the new board to try to ensure that things go right within the 60 days stipulated period for the  appointment of another core investor for the ailing company.

“The board must also make sure that NITEL and Mtel management is intact, check if things are intact and if anybody has stolen anything, it must be brought to our notice and they will be made to pay for it,” the VP said.


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