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Nigerian politicians Oppose Liquidation of State Telco

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Nigerian politicians are opposing a plan to liquidate the assets of the state owned telecoms network, Nitel, claiming that the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) is ignorant of its actual worth.

Local company, Transcorp bought a 75% stake in 2006 in Nitel for $750 million during an earlier privatization sale, but the government reclaimed the stake in 2009 following several years of neglect.

Since then there have been three aborted attempts to sell the company, with the last failing in June 2011 when the Omen International Consortium failed to pay a required USD105 million deposit on the sale.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Senator Gbenga Obadara has however said that its liquidation would be harmful to the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

"We know the importance of NITEL in the telecommunications industry. You don't sell an incumbent. NITEL is an incumbent badly run by past administrations. But you don't throw out the baby with the bath water," he said.

He said that another attempt should be made to turn around the company, although he did not spell out what options could be taken that hadn't already been tried.

The Director-General of BPE, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa has previously said that Nitel and its mobile network subsidiary, Mtel has debts of around US$2.2 billion.

On the web: The Tribune

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Tags: nitel  Nigeria