June 16, 2009

FG suspends sale of NITEL, raises project team

The Federal Govern  ment on Monday in  Abuja deferred the sale of NITEL and its mobile subsidiary, Mtel, preferring to raise an eight-man project team that would steer the affairs of the two companies.

yaradua32The project team, according to an impeccable source at Presidency, will be saddled with the responsibility of resuscitating the premier telecommunication firm before it would be sold to another core investor.

The source said five members of the team would monitor operations in the fixed line company, NITEL, while the three other members would focus on giving the mobile arm, Mtel, a new lease of life. The Mtel team will focus on propping up the network operation, finance and administration, technical and maintenance issues, while the Nitel team will extend its supervision to the under sea fibre cable, SAT-3.

The source said members of the project team would be picked from the top management staff of the two telecommunications outfits, noting that the selection would be from the ranks of General Manager and the Deputy General Manager.

“Anyone below these ranks in NITEL or Mtel will not be included in the project team,” the source said.To check their competence, the source said all the top officials would be expected to submit proposals on how to turn around the company within a given period of time. “It is expected that within 10 weeks of the project team being put in place, NITEL/Mtel network should be working.”

NITEL and Mtel have undergone three phases of privatisation in the last eight years and one year management stint with a Dutch consultancy firm, Pentascope, that had seen the fortunes and assets of the company depreciating The first attempt at privatisating the company ran into a brick wall in 2001 when the highest bidder, Investors International of London (IIL) defaulted in paying the balance after an intial 10 per cent down payment on $1.1 billion .