Senate not part of FG’s plan to sell, concession national assets -Orji

The Senate has said it was not carried along in the planned arrangement by the Federal Government, through its Bureau of Public Enterprises to either sell or concession some national assets in order to fund part of the 2021 budget.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Theodore Orji, gave the clarification in an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said 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.

The Federal Government had concluded plans to sell its Integrated power plants in Geregu, Omotosho, and Calabar at N434bn in 2021.

It had also concluded arrangements to concession the National Art Theatre, Tafawa Balewa Square, and all the River Basin Development Authorities at N836m.

Apart from that, necessary plans had been concluded to concession the National Stadium in Lagos, the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, and two others for N100m.

Information on the planned sales and concession of the national assets was contained in a document presented by the Bureau of Public Enterprises to the Senate last week in Abuja but obtained by our correspondent on Sunday.

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The Director-General of BPE, Alex Okoh, presented the documents to the Senate Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation during the 2021 budget defence sessions.

But Orji denied knowledge of the entire transactions while speaking with journalists on Tuesday.

He said, “During the BPE budget defence before my 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?

“There should be a synergy between the Senate or its committee on privatisation, and the BPE because that is the major parastatal that we oversight.

“I also believe that that the Senate Committee on Privatisation should be carried along when most of the arrangement to either sell or concession our national assets are being made so that we would be aware.

” Let me assure Nigerians that there is no member of the Senate Committee on privatisation that knows about all these things except they read it on the pages of newspapers.

“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.

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“This is neither the first time 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 for being part of the sale of our national assets,  we know nothing about the entire transactions as a committee.

“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 was 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.

“I am not against a situation whereby capable Nigerians buying the national assets so far they would show patriotism in handling it.

“However, what I am against is a situation whereby the assets would be sold to people who would not be capable of handling them.

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