Over 18 months after its eventual sale to NATCON, Nigeria Association of Auctioneers (NAU) has called upon President Muhammadu Buhari to scrutinise the privatisation of Nitel/Mtel in December 2014 transactions with a view to cancelling it.
President of the association, Alhaji Aliyu Kaliya who spoke in Abuja on Friday also challenged the Bureau of Public Procurement to public a distinction between public assets to be disposed through open competitive bidding or auction and those to be sold through secret bidding.
Kaliya while insisting that Nitel/Mtel ought to have fetched at least $1 billion in view of it expansive core and non-core assets scattered all over the country and beyond, said Nigerians were shortchanged in the transaction.
Nitel/Mtel was eventually disposed of in December 2014 for $252.251 million after many previous attempts failed and a liquidator was appointed by the BPE.
The President of NUA said that unlike what happened in the privatisation of successor companies of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), BPE did not separate core assets from non-core assets during the sale of NITEL/Mtel.
According to him, “the assets of Nitel/Mtel was very much under declared”, and express anguish that all the entreaties made by his association to the BPE and Federal Government against giving out the company out cheaply fell on deaf ears.
Kaliya also alleged that public officials were illegally helping themselves by pretending to dispose of confiscated and boarded items transparently through sealed bids.
“The Bureau of Public Procurement should immediately clarify what type of assets to be sold by open competitive bidding through auctions and others to be sold through secret bidding.”
He particularly mentioned items confiscated by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which he stated are either wasting away in warehouses or sold illegally and cheaply to cronies of certain officials.
The man who claimed that there are over 200,000 registered auctioneers in the country lamented that after paying an average of N400,000 annually for registration to various government agencies, most of his members are left in the cold when their jobs are performed by quacks and government officials illegally.