Vice President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the House of Representatives Committee on Privatsation to look into the privatisation exercise carried out by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to ascertain if due process was followed.
Jonathan, who met with members of the committee in his office at the Presidential Villa Abuja yesterday night, explained that the committee’s function included revisiting any transaction involving the privatisation of firms formerly owned by the government with a view to getting it right.
THISDAY gathered from a member of the committee who attended the meeting that far-reaching decisions were taken at the forum.
“We met with the VP. It was an interactive session but we discussed issues of national importance. We will implement most of the issues in our programme.”
He said the meeting was timely as the Vice President is the Chairman of the Privatisation Committee, adding that it provided an avenue for the lawmakers to know government’s stand on the privatisation exercise.
The visit is coming as the House Committee on Public Petitions and the Privatisation Committee will this morning probe the sale of Ajaokuta Steel Company by the BPE to Global Steel Holdings Limited.
The House will conduct a public hearing sequel to a petition by the management of BUA International Limited, a Nigerian company that took part in bidding for the firm.
The company had taken its case to the National Assembly after its Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer, Abdul Samad Rabiu, petitioned the House complaining that his company was shortchanged in the transaction.
Rabiu revealed in the petition that the BPE had, in a letter dated 19th August 2004, conveyed the approval of the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to his company on its emergence as the preferred bidder among three companies that participated.
BUA listed other companies that took part in the bidding as Niger Benue Transport Company and Osaka Steel Limited, but after BUA won, the company was mandated to pay the agreed price of $25 million and bring the transaction to a close.
Rabiu stated that BUA on August 3, 2004 issued a cheque with No 0118474 of N324 million payable through the then Standard Trust Bank (STB) now United Bank for Africa (UBA) to the BPE as part payment for the acquisition of Delta Steel.
He said he was surprised that the company was sold to an Indian company, Global Steel Holdings, at a much lower price even when the firm did not participate in the bidding.
The BUA boss is soliciting the lawmakers’ support to reverse the sale on the grounds that due process was not followed in the transaction.
Speaker of the House, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, while accepting the petition filed by Honourable Dino David Melaye representing Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu federal constituency of Kogi State asked that it be laid on the table.
He subsequently mandated the House Committee on Public Petitions headed by Honourable CID Maduabum, representing Nnewi North South/Ekwusigo federal constituency of Anambra State to handle the issue and report back to the House after a thorough investigation.
Officials of the BPE have confirmed their readiness to reveal how the sale was carried out at the hearing before the committee today at the National Assembly Hearing Room.