By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”The House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, yesterday declared the 90 per cent privatisation of the Federal Superphosphate Fertiliser Company Limited, Kaduna, by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) illegal.
The lawmakers, who took turns to bash BPE over the exercise, also held talks in closed doors with workers of the company, its management and BPE over the need to withdraw suits pending in law courts over a 10 per cent that was supposed to be paid workers in the wake of the exercise. The Acting Chairman of the committee, Abass Braimah, and members -Leo Ogor, Patrick Obahiagbon and others also criticised the arbitrary exercises so far carried out by BPE.
â€œAs a House and a Committee we are guided by the Constitution and the Privatisation Act. We need clarification from BPE on why it decided to privatise this Company 90 percent. Most of the privatisation problems today are caused by the BPE and that is the truth and we must say so.
â€œThe Privatisation Act says BPE should privatise any Company by 51% and you are privatising 90% to 100%, and that is a big problem. We must do what the law says. If the law says 51%, we must not privatise 52%. If you wanted some allowances on privatisation, you should have come to us (lawmakers) to give you the powersâ€, he Chairman of the Committee said.
The fertilizer Plant was acquired by Heiko Consortium in an open bid process for N700million on October 21, 2005.
The acquisition was distributed between Heiko Nigeria Limited 26%, Image Kraft Ltd, 25%, Allwell Petroleum Ltd 20%, Chemtrac Nig. Ltd 15%, Al-kay Nig. Ltd 9% and Abdul M.Kanti 5%.
But the Committee was told that the workers of the plant who were laid off post sale of the fertiliser plant, were to be paid 10% of the transaction sum as compensation.
The Senior Staff Association of Federal Superphosphate Fertilzer Company Limited(FSFC) (Now Privatised) in 25-page petition entitled â€œIn search of Justiceâ€, and signed on behalf the group by their lawyers, Messrs S.E. Mosugu & Company, the group told the Committee that the â€œthe 10% share was reserved for all workers (including the authors of this Memo) and kept in trust by the BPE. The BPE further informed the workers that staff terminal benefits and arrears would be paid from that moneyâ€
The Companies managing the Company however passed the entire buck to the BPE, insisting liabilities be borne by the Privatising firm.
But the Committee of the House called on all parties to withdraw all the cases in the law courts, to allow for a peaceful resolution of the disputes surrounding the controversial sale.