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Senate panel wants quick sale of NITEL

By Emmanuel Aziken

Abuja — The Senate Committee on Privatisation has expressed satisfaction with the transparency involved in the most recent effort to privatise NITEL and is calling for the quick sale of the telecommunications giant to avoid further erosion of investors’ confidence in the company.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Ayo Arise, spoke in a telephone interview following the decision of the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, to conduct a due diligence on New Generation Telecom, the consortium that won the bid to buy 70 per cent of the former national carrier.

Expressing satisfaction with the NCP’s decision on a due diligence, Senator Arise who claimed to have witnessed the bid opening process, nevertheless, expressed concern on the continuing delay in turning over the former monopoly to private investors.

“My worry is that when you do this kind of transaction and you hear much noise about it, I hope the investors will still be there and I think it should be in our interest to sell NITEL this time around once and for all,” Senator Arise said in a telephone interview yesterday.

“I have made it clear that I witnessed the bid opening and I think the process was transparent enough. So, I don’t think we should be second guessing the ability of these people to pay until given the time to pay,” he said.

Welcoming the decision of the NCP to constitute a technical committee to conduct a due diligence on the winning consortium, he said: “We are supposed to wait now for the decision of the NCP. I understand that they have set up a committee and we are hoping that this committee will do what is right and attend to the process.”

On the controversy that followed the initial disavowal of the consortium by China Unicom, Senator Arise said: “When that story broke out, I called the Bureau of Public Enterprises and I wrote them to explain the source of that embarrassment and they came back with documents which indicated that they were dealing all the time with the subsidiary of China Telecoms.”


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