Enugu government clarifies Hotel Presidential redevelopment project
Amid claims by E-Hospitality Services Limited (EHSL) that the Enugu Government granted a concession on the Hotel Presidential to the firm to upgrade and manage the edifice, the state authorities have denied the deal, saying the process that threw up the private investor was faulty.
The iconic building built post-independence as part of the Eastern government’s industrialization plan has a unique offering of recreational and lifestyle elements.
It offered 100 rooms on four floors with recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and a night club. It also brought fond memories to many people that grew up in Enugu and other eastern states. These memories have quickly faded away leaving the hotel in the current decrepit state, after efforts to renovate it eventually turned out to be a false start.
In the agreement with Chime administration, 80 per cent of the equity stake was allotted to E-Hospitality Services while 20 per cent was allotted to Hotel Presidential Limited. Primeview was to fund the renovation and thereafter manage the hotel for 35 years. For years, the company could not raise funds and recently alleged wrongful termination of the lease agreement.
Senior officials of the government alleged that the Chime administration acted in error to lease the hotel to a private investor on the eve of his departure, after Enugu State House of Assembly enacted the Enugu State Privatization and Commercialization of Government Enterprises Law in July 2008, and assented by him as governor on November 2008.
The Chairman Enugu State Council on Privatization and Commercialization, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo and Executive Secretary, Bertran Ngwu in a joint statement explained that 14 companies were listed for privatization in the First Schedule of the law including Hotel Presidential Limited, Ikenga Hotels Limited, Niger steel Company Limited and Vanguard Construction and Furniture Company Limited.
According to them, the listed enterprises automatically transferred to the Enugu State Council on Privatization andCommercialization after the law was signed.
“The council, through its Technical Committee on Privatization and Commercialization, is mandated to offer for sale of shares of 14 of the listed enterprises to be privatized or, in appropriate cases, determine that any of the enterprises be wound up and its assets privatized by way of asset sale.
“The law mandates the council to approve guidelines and criteria for valuation of these enterprises, approve a legal and regulatory framework for their privatization, determine whether the shares of the companies be privatized by way of public or private issue or otherwise, determine when an enterprise is to be privatized, and ensure complete transparency and meaningful participation of Enugu State people and other interests in the exercise.
They said: “The law also provides and specifies a distribution pattern for the allotment of the shares of the listed companies during privatization so that, in selling to a strategic investor, “the interests of indigenes of the 17 local governments, staff of the affected enterprises, indigenes of the South-Eastern States of Nigeria, and the general public are not only represented but also protected.”
While the government stated that the council is currently engaged in the mandate and preparing the enterprises for privatization in accordance with the law, advised “those who have claims or other interests in any of the listed enterprises to be fully acquainted with the position of the law regarding the divestment and commercialization of the enterprises, to be properly guided in their future actions and utterances.”