***Says N2.7 Billion concession, a National Disaster, leadership failure, Organisations making huge money, Zero remittance to the Government
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate said yesterday that it will soon begin a holistic investigation into all the issues relating to the Concession and privatization of some government property in the Federal Capital Territory to the tune of N2.7 billion, just as it described the entire process as a national disaster and leadership failure.
According to the Senate, it was disheartening that inspite of the barrage of investments in the territory, with the private owners of these government establishments making huge amount of money, the revenue portion on these investments stood at zero over the years since 2008 to the coffers of the federal government.
Against this backdrop, the Senate said that it would summon all the key players in the past governments that were responsible for the concession and privatization of these property to private individuals in the nation’s capital city.
Speaking yesterday during a meeting with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello and the entire leadership of the FCTA appeared before the Senate Committee on the FCT, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West who vowed that the Senate would get to the root of the matter by bringing to book all the major players in the concession and privatization process of these property.
Melaye who described the process as real leadership failure and a national disaster, however warned that the country cannot allow this to continue if Nigeria as a country must grow, adding that the Committee would expose all those involved, even when it amounts to exhuming corpses if those involved are dead, adding that people pay to use Eagle Square, facilities at the International Conference Centre, ICC and other government investments, yet at the end of the day, there is zero remittance to the government.
He said, ” It is worthy of note that these FCT owned companies received huge returns on investment without making returns to FCT Administration. The returns are in billions of Naira. They are spent and re-invested without appropriation. This is contrary to the principles of accountability and due process. The Committee is also worried about the revenue line charge on investment income. The actual performance on This charge has zero returns over The years.”
Incidentally, the concession and privatization of these government property was carried out during former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan,just as the Ministers were Mallam Nasir El- Rufai who is now the governor of Kaduna State; Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar; Senator Bala Mohammed, among others.
Meanwhile, the FCTA Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello told the Committee that the Concession was not carried out now, just as he said that unfortunately, all those that took the decision were not in the hall and the present government, adding that the Senate must be commended for trying to right the wrongs that were made in the past.
According to him, he had put in place a seven-man interim management team headed by Dr. Bashir Isyaku was put in place to oversee the affairs of the AICL, just as he pleaded with the Senate to give the Committee time to complete its assignment and he would then present the report to the Senate Committee.
Senator Melaye said, ” Let me say that the abysmal performance of These concessioned properties in The FCT is basically a direct consequence of leadership failure. By the twilight of Thye past administrations in Nigeria, a plethora of discontentment on The exercise had reached fever pitches. We as members of This Committee will continue to bridge The meaning of our resolve with realiTies Through our oversight for effective implementation.
Senator Melaye further said, “permit me to comment on some of the concessioned properties as follows:The Karu General Hospital was initially a 222-bed facility built by the FCT Administration. It is important to note that 40% of the Hospital is leased to Primus Super Specialty Hospital (an Indian HoSpital) for management. The hospital commenced operation on 19th April, 2017.
“THIS DAY DOME.Abuja Investment Company Limited (AICL) was allocated Plot 702 Cadastral Zone A00, CBD, Abuja and thereafter entered into two years Lease Agreement with leaders and company popularly called “This Day Dome Arena” in respect of the said plot. The Lease Agreement was effective from May 1, 2009. The total rent payable for the term was N97,090,284:02.
“EAGLE SQUARE AND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE (ICC), ABUJA. The Committee observed that the Eagle Square and Abuja International Conference Centre were concessioned to the same company who had no evidence of previous facility management experience anywhere in the world, and without financial capacity to manage the facilities. This company had to fall back on FCTA to buy new equipment to kick-start its operations. It is worthy of note that the management of the two concessioned facilities makes millions of Naira on a monthly basis since the commencement of its operations.
“GARKI HOSPITAL. Garki Hospital was concessioned to Nisa Premier Hospital in partnership with Nisa Premier Apeiron Consortium. It is pertinent to state that Garki Hospital was built to provide affordable healthcare for residents of Garki District. The aim of providing the facility was defeated as the management of the hospital now charges relativety very high fees on patients due to concession of the hospital. The Committee frowns at this misdemeanor. As representatives of the people, we hold it as a responsibility to care md protect the people’s lives‘ worst harzard and misfortune specially in a time like this.
“Time and time again, I wonder deep in my heart why must it be Garki which hosts the lower and medium cadre officers in the civil service. Why not Asokoro or Maitama Hospitals, which are surrounded by high caliber of Nigerians from all walks of life.
“SHERATON HOTEL & TOWERS. Sheraton Hotel and Towers was incorporated on 16th January, 1981 as a private liability company which later transformed into public liability company in 1990. The hotel was constructed by Government with a loan of about $300 million (Three Hundred Million Dollars) borrowed from a German Bank. The debt was eventually settled by Government because there was a sovereign guarantee on it.
“The then Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mrs. Irene Chigbue, stated clearly during the Investigative Public Hearing of this Committee in 2008 that Government Agencies were invited to subscribe to the ownership of the company in which Abuja Investment Limited was part of the subscribers.
“It is important to note that 87% of the Federal Government shares of the hotel, that is 51% was sold to core investors while other shareholders’ shares remain unchanged.
It is worrisome to state that Sheraton Hotel and Towers was privatized for $34 million (Thirty Four Million Dollars) only.
“The Committee was reliably informed that the 51% of the shares of the hotel was valued and sold for $34 million. This means that the total value of the hotel is less than $68 million.
“This figure is very ridiculous because the hotel was constructed at a period when the Naira was stronger than the dollar ($300m). Despite the hotel’s 20 years of operations (1982 2002), the Return on Investment (ROI) was a negative quantity.Today, the facilities in the hotel is depreciating by the day. The hotel is not well managed with many of the rooms uninhabitable.
“NICON LUXURY. The sale of Sofitel International Hotel which is also known as NICON Luxury Hotel followed the same pattern as the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.
The hotel was constructed in 1980. The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, owns 92.5% of the shares, FCDA owns 4.64%, NICON Insurance owns 01%. The remaining shares were distributed accordingly.
“Committee noted as follows in the course of its findings: That about $130m was spent in building the hotel; That 90% of the shares were sold for only $50m as against $130m it took the government to build the hotel: and That 19 million Euro was used for the furnishing of the hotel, bringing the total estimated cost of the asset to $200 million.
“ABUJA INVESTNENT LIMITED (AIL) Abuja Investment Limited is an investment company which houses all FCT owned companies The companies include Abuja Market Management Limited (AMML) and Abuja Investment Property Development Company (AIPDC).
“ABUJA GARDENS. The Committee has no sufficient information about The concession of Abuja Gardens.”