The House of Representatives is to open fresh investigation into the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunication (Mtel).
The House said the process leading to the sale of the two national carriers for $252million to a consortium named NATCOM, was flawed.
They also said the two national carriers were worth more than the amount generated for them by the government.
The decision of the lawmakers followed the adoption of a motion by Henry Nwawuba (PDP, Imo), who regretted that it was the failure of the National carriers to live up to the expectations of Nigerians that led to their privatisation and subsequent sale in December 2014 to NATCOM for $252.3m
He said: “We should be concerned that since the sale and subsequent take over by NATCOM, lots of controversies have been raised about the process leading to the sales, particularly on the alleged under-valuation of the companies prior to the sales.
“The sale should be more worrisome when viewed against the huge revenue potentials of communication companies, especially with Nigeria’s huge population of over 170 million and also its capacity to generate employment for the teeming unemployed citizens.
“We are also cognizant of the fact that there is every need to resolve the issues surrounding the sales and takeover of the National carriers by the NATCOM consortium.
The Minority leader, Leo Ogor in his conttibution, said the enormity of the subject matter, especially on capital flight must be appreciated by Nigerians, stressing that the privatisation policy of government failed regarding NITEL considering the fact that it has infrastructural facilities all over the country.
He said the privatisation policy was not only abused, but also not well managed which allowed some phoney foregn companies to syphon the country’s money.
He urged the investigation panel to reveal the truth about the transaction.
Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta), opined that from security point of view, NITEL and Mtel should not have been sold in the first place.
Citing the recent penalty slammed on a mobile communications service provider, Ossai explained that NITEL has the capacity, with its nationwide facilities to provide the services required of it by security agencies without prejudices.
On his part, Simon Arabo (PDP, Kaduna), who noted that there was something inimical about the sale noted that NITEL’s critical assets alone are worth more than what it was sold for.
Emmanuel Oghene (PDP, Lagos) however warned that the privatization policy should not confused with the NITEL sale.
According to him, privatization policy is desirable but the reason behind the cheap sale of the national carrier should be the main focus of the investigation.
Dickson Tarkighin (APC, Benue)backed Oghene saying NITEL’s landed property alone can raise the money it was sold for.
He said all those involved in the sale of the national carrier should not be spared from prosecution if Cound culpable.