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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Odinma tackles BPE on NITEL’s misery

Nigerian-born telecommunications consultant based in the United Kingdom (UK), Prof. Augustine Odinma has blamed the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) over the current misery state the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), has found itself.
ITREALMS recalls that fortnight ago, efforts to privatize NITEL
hitted yet another rock, following drastically under-pricing of the organization
to the tune of $256.5 million by Orascom, which is less the amount the mobile
arm, Mtel, paid for its license in 2001, which was $258 million.

The failure to sale NITEL was also attributed to poor information management on the part of the BPE on the agency’s website, which was reportedly obsolete.
Reacting to the latest, Prof. Odinma said what the nation is witnessing in respect of the failure is the aftermath of mismanagement perpetuated by BPE in 2002.
He noted that in 2005, Nigerians, especially some expects were enthusiastic on the number of companies that showed interest on NITEL privatization bid.
“But I was skeptical because the condition that made the 2002 sale
to IIL to fail has not changed,” he declared. As said by him, the telecom
market has not improved since year 2002, but has merely become stable since
2004.

This much, Prof. Odinma said, was part of submission he made to the National Assembly on March 15, last year, in a study commissioned by the House Committee on rot perpetuated by the Pentascope International as management contractors to the entity.
Stressing that he equally updated the analyses and sent same to the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on May 3, 2005.
Emphasising that in the letter, he had suggested an alternative privatization approach due to the fact that he believed that the core investor’s approach to the sale of NITEL would not be optimized.
“If you look at the whole planning that took place, regarding telecom and the industry since 2001, it has been carried out by non-telecom professionals,” he decried.
Pointing out that the nation has just realized this fact in the Aviation industry, in that optimum results cannot be achieved if top managers are non-professionals or experts in that particular field.
This, he said, has been his clamour for the telecom industry over the years.
He specifically quoted section 9 of the report, which reads, “Could it not be that most of them, investors, think that NITEL is now a run down company, and as such could be acquired at a ridiculous price”.However, he insisted, “Yes, we have to privatize NITEL, but not at all cost”.

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