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Obasanjo, Jonathan, El-Rufai, others to face Senate probe

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The Senate, on Thursday, said it will soon begin a holistic investigation into issues surrounding the concession and privatisation of some government properties in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to the tune of N2.7 billion. The upper chamber described the entire process as a national disaster.

According to the Senate, it was unfortunate that despite the huge investments in the nation’s capital, the revenue portion on them accruing to the coffers of the Federal Government stood at zero per cent over the years dating back to 2008.

The Senate committee on the FCT, which is handling the probe, said it would summon all the prominent players in past governments that participated in the concession and privatisation exercise.

Speaking during a meeting with the Minister of FCT, Muhammad Musa Bello, and other senior staff of FCT Administration who appeared before the Senate Committee on the FCT, its chairman, Senator Dino Melaye, vowed that the Senate would get to the root of the matter by bringing to book all the major players in the exercise.

Melaye who described the process as real leadership failure and a national disaster, however warned that the country could not allow this to continue if Nigeria must grow. He added that the committee would expose all those involved, even when it amounted to exhuming corpses of those involved who are dead.

Read also: You must face Senate probe if you have nothing to hide, Saraki tells IGP Idris

He said: “It is worthy of note that these FCT owned companies received huge returns on investment without making returns to FCT Administration. The returns are in billions of Naira. They are spent and re-invested without appropriation. This is contrary to the principles of accountability and due process. The Committee is also worried about the revenue line charge on investment income. The actual performance on This charge has zero returns over The years.”

The concession and privatisation of these government properties was carried out during former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, just as the Ministers were Nasir El- Rufai who is now the governor of Kaduna State; Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar; Senator Bala Mohammed, among others.

Meanwhile, the FCTA Minister, Bello told the committee that the concession was not carried out now, just as he said that all those that took the decision were not in the hall and in the present government. He added that the Senate must be commended for trying to right the wrongs that were made in the past.

According to him, he had put in place a seven-man interim management team headed by Dr. Bashir Isyaku to oversee the affairs of the the concession and privatisation, just as he pleaded with the Senate to give the committee time to complete its assignment and present the report.

Senator Melaye retorted, “Let me say that the abysmal performance of these concessioned properties in The FCT is basically a direct consequence of leadership failure. By the twilight of The past administrations in Nigeria, a plethora of discontentment on The exercise had reached fever pitches.

“We as members of This Committee will continue to bridge the meaning of our resolve with realities through our oversight for effective implementation.

“Permit me to comment on some of the concessioned properties as follows: The Karu General Hospital was initially a 222-bed facility built by the FCT Administration. It is important to note that 40% of the Hospital is leased to Primus Super Specialty Hospital (an Indian HoSpital) for management. The hospital commenced operation on 19th April, 2017.

“The then Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mrs. Irene Chigbue, stated clearly during the Investigative Public Hearing of this committee in 2008 that Government Agencies were invited to subscribe to the ownership of the company in which Abuja Investment Limited was part of the subscribers.

“It is important to note that 87% of the Federal Government shares of the hotel, that is 51% was sold to core investors while other shareholders’ shares remain unchanged.

“The committee was reliably informed that the 51% of the shares of the hotel was valued and sold for $34 million. This means that the total value of the hotel is less than $68 million.

“This figure is very ridiculous because the hotel was constructed at a period when the Naira was stronger than the dollar ($300m). Despite the hotel’s 20 years of operations (1982 2002), the Return on Investment (ROI) was a negative quantity.Today, the facilities in the hotel is depreciating by the day. The hotel is not well managed with many of the rooms uninhabitable”.

 

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