The Senate yesterday washed its hands off the federal government’s proposed sale and concession of some national assets including the three power plants and four stadia in 2021 saying it was not aware of such move.
It has, therefore, resolved to invite the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh, to explain why such plans were being hatched without the Senate being carried along.
Okoh, had last week disclosed that the federal government intends in 2021 to sell the three power plants in Geregu, Omotosho and Calabar.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Theodore Orji, while commenting on plans by the BPE to either sell or concession some national assets in order to fund part of the 2021 budget, stated categorically that such plans was not known to the upper legislative chamber.
“The position of the Senate Committee on Privatization is that we are not aware of the planned arrangement by the Bureau of Public Enterprises to either concession or put for outright sale, some national assets in the country in order to fund the 2021 federal budget.
“During the BPE budget defence before the committee, I complained bitterly that the relationship between our committee and the BPE, has not been very cordial due to the behaviour of the DG, BPE. This is a man that if we call him on phone, he would not answer and if we send him a text message, he would not reply. How then does he want us to communicate?”.
The ranking senator stressed the need for a synergy between the Senate and the BPE adding that the Senate Committee on Privatisation should be carried along when most of the arrangement to either sell or concession the national assets are being made.
He further said that the BPE boss only apologised when the committee asked him why the Senate was not involved in the planned sale of the national assets
His words: “We were never briefed by the management of the BPE. We were not there when the necessary documents were signed. We were never invited at all. When the DG, BPE came to defend his agency’s 2021 budget proposal before us, we asked him why he didn’t invite us at least as witnesses, he merely apologised.
“This is neither the first nor the second time that such a thing would happen. When it happened the first time, I accosted him and asked him why he prevented us from carrying out our statutory job. However, we felt this is the best time to open up so that tomorrow, Nigerians would not blame the Senators of being part of the sale of our national assets, we know nothing about the entire transactions as a committee”.
Orji, however, assured Nigerians that the Senate will get to the root of the matter having summoned the agency’s DG to appear before it with all relevant documents of the transaction.
He said: “We want to assure Nigerians that the committee will carry out its functions by summoning the DG, BPE. We would demand for all the documents relating to the entire transactions. We would ascertain whether due process were followed. We would also look at the amount that the BPE put up the assets for either outright sale or concession. We would scrutinise the papers to see whether they are fair or ridiculous amounts because what Nigeria as a nation needs now, is money.”
Orji further said his committee will also carry out oversight visit to the various locations of the assets being put up for sale or concession to ascertain their current state.
“We would go there for an the spot assessment in company with consultants and we would send our own report to the appropriate quarters to compare and contrast.
Apart from the latest national assets listed by the BPE to concession or sell in 2021, our committee had also listed those that had been done in the past with a view to resisting the entire transactions and the process adopted in putting them up for sale or concession. Some of them are the Transcorp Hilton, the power plants, and the assets in the oil and gas sector that had been concessioned”, he said.