Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has defended the nation’s privatization exercise. He also faulted subtle moves by certain unnamed powerful groups to stall the privatization of the power sector.
El-Rufai who was also DG of the BPE from 1999 to 2003, said 33 federal government-owned were privatized under his watch and that 23 of the deals were concluded with $57 billion realized as proceeds.
He described government-owned companies as unnecessary drain on public funds stressing that solution to the privatization exercise lies in adequate funding, appointment of the right caliber of persons and protection of the BPE from interference.
He said most of the companies that were privatized under his watch are doing very well with some of them having gone international in their operations.
Testifying before the Senate ad hoc panel investigating the privatization of companies since 1999, the former minister said rather than blaming the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, for the observed lapses in the process, Nigerians ought to be grateful to the Bureau for its role.
He appealed to the various political actors to ensure the independence of the BPE, saying most of the distortions in the process were as a result of undue interference by the powers that be.
Former Director-General of the BPE, Dr. Christopher Anyanwu, also told the panel that occupants of the BPE top seat had always been under serious pressure from top officials at the Presidency.
Anyanwu was unceremoniously removed from office in 2010 over what is believed to be conflict of interests among some power brokers over the privatization of the Nigerian Telecommunication Company, NITEL.
Addressing the committee, Anyanwu said, “I want to say that whoever is sitting on the seat of the DG of BPE is under serious pressure from various quarters, including high level officials at the Presidency. That is why the process has not worked.”
He said he was forced to write a memo to the President when the pressure became unbearable. He however did not state the reasons why he was relieved of his appointment.