" ITREALMS: NELMCO's example in public assets disposal - ITREALMS Online

Saturday, July 21, 2018

NELMCO's example in public assets disposal - ITREALMS Online

Nigeria is a country witnessing many developments. In an era of many controversies, a positive aspect still appears in an obscure corner. Disposal of public assets can conform to due process and extant laws. An agency is walking the talk.

As civil society activists, we pry over many agencies of government, advocating for due process and anti-corruption as spearheaded by the present federal administration. We stumbled on an agency largely unmentioned in the past, the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Ltd/Gte (NELMCO), a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing that is saddled with the responsibility of disposal of the Non-core properties of the defunct PHCN.This body has set a new standard in public assets disposal in Nigeria.

Our interest in the activities of the agency was triggered by the echo created by the recent “Expression of Interest” published by the agency in most national dailies and the current Federal Tenders Journal requesting reputable organisations to serve as Valuers, Sales Agents and to provide comprehensive inventory for the Non-core Assets of the defunct PHCN.

We gathered that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has previously valued the PHCN Non-core Assets listed by the agency in the recent publication, in 2015. However, due to unfavorable public perception about the processes leading to the selection of the Valuer and also doubts about the amounts quoted as values of the properties which were believed to have been compromised.

Our checks also indicated that for any sale of public property to be deemed successful, that property must have been valued within twelve months from the date of the sales. This we believe has necessitated the revaluation that is being carried out by NELMCO.

Many of the bidders reported shock by some of the requirements put up by NELMCO as a prerequisite for participation in either Valuers or Sales Agent for the disposal of the PHCN Non-core Assets. They stated that some of the stringent conditions adopted by NELMCO has never been seen in the history of Nigeria, not even during the widely acclaimed monetization sales processes.

Some of the conditions listed by the agency includes strict adherence to the BPP Guideline for the disposal of public assets. We also gathered that the bidders must also meet up with requirements such as BPP Registration, CAC, Tax Clearance, Company Audited Account, Company Profile with CV of Staff, Experience of Firm as well as PenCom, ITF, NSITF, Esvarbon, NIEVES Registrations amongst others.

To our amazement, this will be the first time that government agencies such as Esvarbon and NIEVES who have the mandate to certify and regulate estate surveyors in Nigeria will play an active role in public assets disposal in Nigeria. In addition to the requirements mentioned above, the inclusion of the two bodies by NELMCO has come to dwarf all the previous sales regimes of public asset disposals in Nigeria.

A further look and we were also delightedly informed that both EFCC and ICPC will also serve as observers of the entire pre-qualification process and will also be present at all the meetings.

We also gathered that the Comprehensive Audit was routed by NELMCO after the agency discovered the existence of certain stranded PHCN properties during the preliminary audit of PHCN Assets Nationwide carried out in the six geo-political zones sometime in 2017. During the exercise, it was  learned that NELMCO recorded many stranded PHCN Properties that were unknown at that time that were not sold during the monetization exercise as well as during other sales regimes undertaking by the PHCN Management and whose records were lost to the fire incident at the PHCN Headquarters in 1991.

So in a bid to recover these assets, NELMCO published an “Expression of Interest” for the procurement of services of reputable consultants that will carry out a Comprehensive Audit of all PHCN properties dating back to the era of Niger Dam, ECN, NEPA and PHCN. This we also discovered to be the first time an agency of government is going out at such monumental scale to recover stranded public assets in Nigeria.

As the sale process continues, it is important to task the management of the agency to keep the high standard it has set not just now but even after the sale. That an agency is prepared to abide and even raise the bar of public asset disposal is a commendable development.

*Contributed by Abdulahi Ibrahim, a program officer with Power Sector Transparency Watchdog

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