Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Buhari to visits sale of NITEL/MTEL

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the sale of the Nigeria Telecommunications company (NITEL).

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President Mohammadu Buhari
The president said much as he was not opposed to the sale of the national communication firm, there was the need to ensure that the country was not shortchanged in the process.

Accordingly, he directed the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communions Technology, Dr Tunji Olaopa to detail the transaction in a memo and forward to him.

The Permanent Secretary who disclosed this to State House correspondents after briefing Buhari on state of affairs in the ministry, added that the President was concerned deeply about the transaction.
He said: “The President was concerned by the quality of service of telecom operators. The President is very concerned about the whole issue of privatization that is hindering the investments in ICT infrastructure and that he will personally champion this.

“The President talked about the potentials of the ICT sector in generating employment.
“The President was concerned about the liquidation of NITEL. He is not opposed to its privatization but he wants to know and he wants us to bring a memo on how the whole transaction was undertaken so that he would know whether Nigeria was shortchanged.”

It could be recalled that former President Jonathan’s administration sold the telecom company for $252m to NATCOM consortium in December 2014.
The President directed the Ministry to work harder to fully develop the revenue-generation potential of Nigeria’s information technology sector.

He also directed the Ministry to bring forward for his consideration and approval, all pending proposals for the development of the country’s IT sector which require the approval of the Federal Executive Council.

“Where you don’t need EXCO approval and you are not in breach of the law and will not lose money, you can go ahead. Now that oil costs less and we are contending with its theft, we have to move to areas where we can realize revenue quickly,” the President said.

President Buhari welcomed the plan by the Ministry to use post-offices across the country for IT and financial transactions especially in the rural communities, saying that he was happy to hear that “we are recovering the post offices from rats and rodents.”

The President said he was concerned by the continuing protests of former NITEL employees and other Nigerians over the manner in which assets of the company were sold.

The Ministry’s presentation to the President dwelled heavily on the potential of the IT sector which, Dr. Olaopa said, contributes 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, but could grow to 20 percent if some proposals by the Ministry were approved and implemented.