Posted by From Madu Onuorah, Abuja on
TO assist the ailing Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday ordered the immediate compilation of the debt owed....
TO assist the ailing Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday ordered the immediate compilation of the debt owed the parastatal by government's ministries and agencies.
The order, which was given to the ministries of Finance and Communications may be with a view to deducting such debts at source from the affected organisations' allocations.
The FEC, in its meeting, presided over by President Olusegun Obasanjo, expressed concern at the high level of public institutions' indebtedness to NITEL.
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke said that for now, the level of indebtedness of each ministry or agency will be determined after the two ministries have finished their work.
He disclosed that the Federal Government had last April paid NITEL about N1.5 billion as part of efforts to ensure that its liabilities to the parastatal are sorted out.
This was also aimed at preparing the agency for sale.
According to Nweke, "the Federal Government expressed concern over the debt owed to NITEL by ministries and departments. The ministers of Finance and Communications, Nenadi Usman and Cornelius Adebayo, are to co-ordinate efforts to reconcile the debts. It is not unlikely that the debt are to be deducted directly from those ministries' accounts."
Other issues for which approval was given by the Council include five water resources projects in both the South-East and South-South zones of the country.
The projects are the earth dam for Ogwashiuku in Delta State, which will cost N440 million; the Afikpo (Ebonyi State) and the Amechi Idodo (Enugu State) water supply projects.
While the Afikpo project will cost N68.9 million, the Amechi-Idodo scheme is expected to cost N324 million and will be completed in 18 months.
Also approved were the water supply project for the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) community at the cost of N108 million and the Awka (Anambra State) water scheme at the cost N318.143 million.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mukhtar Shagari, told reporters that funding for all the projects had been taken care of in the 2006 Appropriation Act, adding that the government had surpassed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target for water supply in the country by about 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian firm, FT Networks, has refuted a newspaper (not The Guardian) publication that an American company is bidding for NITEL.
In a statement by the firm's Director of Public Affairs, Olumide Harrison, it said FT Networks, a registered Nigerian company, is currently bidding for the 51 per cent stake in NITEL, which is up for sale through the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE).
It added "FT Networks in its desire to attract the best available telecommunications technology and management knowledge to Nigeria, is leading a consortium of other reputable global firms in its bid for NITEL. One of these firms is the world renowned telecom innovator, Lucent Technologies which is involved as a technology provider to the consortium. In essence, it is the FT Networks Consortium not Lucent Technologies that is bidding for NITEL. Lucent Technologies key role in the consortium pertains more to a possible post acquisition network rehabilitation and upgrade.