The Action Congress (AC) has called for a holistic review of the privatization programme started by the Obasanjo administration, following reported plans by the Umar Yar’Adua government to take another look at the sale of some companies under the programme.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the AC said such an all-encompassing review would save the country enormous resources and time that would have been expended on a piecemeal approach.
It said, it was common knowledge that the privatisation programme under the last administration was deeply flawed, badly thought-out and, in some instances, amounted to merely handing over the nation’s patrimony to a few Obasanjo cronies.
“From the hasty disposal of the refineries, suspicious sale of Ajaokuta Steel Company to the cheap privatisation of NITEL and NICON, it was a case of selling off key public enterprises without much consideration given to overriding national interest.
“Even the 102 Federal Government colleges were put up for privatisation or concessioning, despite widespread criticism.
Mercifully, that ill-advised plan has now been stopped in the nation’s interest.
“We shouted ourselves hoarse in warning the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo to tread softly, especially in the largely underhand sale of NITEL to Transcorp and the refineries to a few folks. Now, the chicken has come home to roost. The so-called mega company has not been able to actualise any of its promises to revive the foremost national gateway, while this government has reversed the sale of the refineries.
“The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which vehemently defended the give-away sale of NITEL to Transcorp despite several warnings, has now admitted making mistakes in not properly scrutinising Transcorp’s bid. Even the much-vaunted Transcorp could not meet the payment terms for its cheap purchase.
“We are also aware that the sale of the Ajaokuta Steel Company to an Indian firm has come under scrutiny, as the Yar’Adua administration has set up a panel of inquiry to probe it.
“There is no doubt that several similar cases abound, and will still attract the attention of the present administration. It therefore makes more sense for the government to order a general review of the privatization programme before continuing with it,” AC said.
The party said such a review could lead to a reversal of the sale of any enterprise whose privatisation did not follow due process or found not to be in the national interest, as well as help to avoid such pitfalls in future privatisation moves.
– The Sun