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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NCC, ATCON hail FG on sale of NITEL

Remmy Nweke

Stakeholders in the telecommunications sector in the country have hailed the federal government over the sale of the national carrier, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) to Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) at the price of $170 million, about N170 billion.

Some of the stakeholders who spoke to ITREALMS Online on this development described it as long overdue but good development.

They included the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, chief executive of Private Telephone Operator (PTO), Independent Telephone Network (ITN), Chief Adebayo Akande and executive director, MultiLinks, one of the four telcos complaint to the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), Chief Ezekiel Fatoye.

Dr. Ndukwe in a press statement made available to newsmen and endorsed by the Principal Manager, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Inatime Spiff, said, it is heart-warming to him that NITEL has been sold to a dominantly Nigerian company, even as he challenged the new owners, Transcorp, to prove that Nigerians can successfully manage a company of such size.

“I wish to congratulate the President, the Minister of Communications, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Transcorp on this epoch-making event, and I believe Nigerians should be happy that at last NITEL is being successfully privatized,” Dr. Ndukwe asserted.

Noting that what it requires to move a multi-billion naira company like NITEL to the next level is to have experienced hands in business management and of course Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the helm of affairs, stressing that there are many Nigerians in the diaspora as well as locally with the capacity to achieve this.

Welcoming Transcorp’s involvement of British Telecom (BT) at this stage, Ndukwe said that BT being a known player in the global telecom stage would bring their international experience to bear upon helping Transcorp to repackage NITEL for higher performance.

On his advice to the new owners of NITEL, Dr. Ndukwe urged Transcorp to immediately take charge of the critical departments of NITEL and inject new blood into the top hierarchy of the company. He also advised the new owners that even within NITEL and its subsidiary, Mtel, there are competent professionals who only require motivation to bring out the best in them.

For Dr. Ekuwem who also is the chief executive, Teledom Group of Companies, the sale of NITEL has been dragged to a state of creating confusion in the industry, given the important role the company plays in the nation’s telecom sector.

Therefore, he lauded the government for making the sale possible eventually, noting, that is one of its responsibilities.

Although he expressed disappointment in the wholesome sale of NITEL, saying he had expected unbundling of the national carrier, just as he tasked government to ensure that since it is a wholesome sale, every other related issue, such as emoluments, gratuity and salaries being owe staff of NITEL must be cleared.

Chief Akande in his reaction agrees that Nigerians with interest in NITEL have been “expecting it and is a welcome development.” He stressed that most valuable aspect has been the sale to a Nigerian company and looks forward to the structure taking a new turn both in organization and personnel orientation.

“Now, NITEL would be different, that is, private sector driven. It is no doubt a good development, and its expected that attitudes of personnel and organization would change,” he declared.

Equally, the Executive Director, Multilinks, Chief Fatoye, said, “we are all expecting the sale of 51 per cent shares rather than 75 per cent,” that was eventually disposed.

He noted that the good thing about the disposal of NITEL is that it was bought over by Nigerians.

On expectation, Chief Fatoye, said he would like to see NITEL really improve and transform into a giant that it was by coming back to its operational at par with competition.

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