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Senate urges caution on review of privatised firms

By Mathias Okwe (Abuja) and Leo Sobechi (Lagos)
11 December 2017   |   4:23 am
The Senate has advised the Federal Government to exercise caution in the review of privatised enterprises by the past governments so as not to scare away foreign investors from the country.

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce

• VON DG knocks Ekweremadu over comments on rising national debt
• Kinsmen flay Okechukwu for attacking deputy Senate president

The Senate has advised the Federal Government to exercise caution in the review of privatised enterprises by the past governments so as not to scare away foreign investors from the country.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, gave the advice at the weekend, as the country seeks solution to the challenges of the power sector.

A statement by the Head of Public Communications of the BPE, Chukwuma Nwokoh, said Murray-Bruce made the remark when the Committee paid an oversight visit to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in Abuja

“We have been mandated to hold public hearing on the power sector. We are mindful of foreign investors and we are wary of scaring away foreign investors. However, we need to fix it.

“Privatisation should not only be a welcome intervention but should also create jobs. In addition, privatisation should create wealth and build efficiencies,” he said.

Murray-Bruce lauded the cordial relationship between the Senate Committee and the BPE, adding that the Committee was aware that the BPE is cash-strapped.

“We need to fund you adequately so that you can do your work effectively,” he said.

Speaking, Director General of BPE, Alex Okoh, said the Bureau has commenced a thorough review of the non-performing enterprises to ascertain the issues affecting their performances.

He noted that the current initiatives of the BPE are poised to positively impact the economy in areas of power generation and supply, improvement in overall infrastructure, employment creation, food security and human capital development leading to overall economic growth.

Okoh added that BPE’s role was to assist in restructuring the public sector enterprises and services in a manner that would bring about a new synergy between a leaner and more efficient government and a revitalised, efficient and service oriented private sector.

On the Senate team were the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Abdullahi Yahaya and Shaaba Lafiaji, a member of the committee.

Meanwhile, Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has dismissed as false alarm, claims by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, that Nigeria’s debt has continued to rise under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government.

Ekweremadu had told journalists that the APC government has continued to accumulate debts for the country, stressing that the government lacks the capacity to create wealth and grow the economy.

Okechukwu, who hails from the same Enugu West Senatorial district with Ekweremadu, said the Senator was mistaken in his assessment of the economic development and achievements under the APC administration.

But in a swift reaction to Okechukwu’s comments, the Enugu West Peoples Assembly has described his allegation that Ekweremadu diverted the budgetary allocation meant for the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway to the construction of Awgu-Ndeabor-Mpu-Akaeze road, which passed through his hometown as mischief.

A statement by National President of the group and former member of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Paul Anikwe, said Okechukwu not only lacked understanding of the Appropriation Act and budget implementation, but was venting his frustration over his redundancy in a moribund government media house.