ABUJA – The Nigerian Senate has announced that it will soon begin a rigorous investigation into the controversies surrounding the concession and privatization of some government property in the Federal Capital Territory to the tune of N2.7 billion.
It described the entire process as a national disaster and leadership failure.
The upper legislative chamber said it was disheartening that despite the stream of investments in the territory, with the private owners of these government establishments making huge amount of money, the revenue portion on the investments stood at zero over the years since 2008.
Consequently, the Senate said that it would summon all the key players in the past governments that were responsible for the concession and privatization of these property to private individuals in the nation’s capital city.
Speaking yesterday during a meeting with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello and the entire leadership of the FCTA appeared before the Senate Committee on the FCT, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West vowed that the Senate would dig deep into the matter by fishing out all the major players in the concession and privatization process of these property.
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.
“Incidentally, the concession and privatization of these government property were carried out during former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan,just as the Ministers were Mallam Nasir El- Rufai who is now the governor of Kaduna State; Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar; Senator Bala Mohammed, among others.”
“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 Thye 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.”
Senator Melaye added, “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.
“Garki Hospital was concessioned to Nisa Premier Hospital in partnership with Nisa Premier Apeiron Consortium. It is pertinent to state that Garki Hospital was built to provide affordable healthcare for residents of Garki District. The aim of providing the facility was defeated as the management of the hospital now charges relativety very high fees on patients due to concession of the hospital. The Committee frowns at this misdemeanor. As representatives of the people, we hold it as a responsibility to care md protect the people’s lives‘ worst harzard and misfortune specially in a time like this.
“Time and time again, I wonder deep in my heart why must it be Garki which hosts the lower and medium cadre officers in the civil service. Why not Asokoro or Maitama Hospitals, which are surrounded by high caliber of Nigerians from all walks of life.
“Sheraton Hotel and Towers was incorporated on 16th January, 1981 as a private liability company which later transformed into public liability company in 1990. The hotel was constructed by Government with a loan of about $300 million (Three Hundred Million Dollars) borrowed from a German Bank. The debt was eventually settled by Government because there was a sovereign guarantee on it.
“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. It is worrisome to state that Sheraton Hotel and Towers was privatized for $34 million (Thirty Four Million Dollars) only.
“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.
“The sale of Sofitel International Hotel which is also known as NICON Luxury Hotel followed the same pattern as the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. The hotel was constructed in 1980. The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, owns 92.5% of the shares, FCDA owns 4.64%, NICON Insurance owns 01%. The remaining shares were distributed accordingly.”