During the dubious rule of Obasanjo, public property was treated as bona vacantia (nobody’s property). Highly valued public assets were sold at derisory prices to Obasanjo’s friends and dubious business men connected with his government. Transcorp bought Nitel at 750 million dollars but paid only 75 million dollars with the promise to complete the balance. Although the period for completing the full payment had elapsed, Transcorp was still allowed tow on Nitel. Other bidders in the sale of government assets who failed to pay within the stipulated period lost the chance to take over public enterprises. But Transcorp, thanks to Obasanjo’s unfair influence, was given preferential treatment by the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
The National Council on Privatization, chaired by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, recommended the revocation of the sale of Nitel to Transcorp because the company defeated the basic objectives of introducing privatization in the first place. One of the objectives was to restore failed public enterprises to profitability and viability.
Usman Abubakar Kafur is a public commentator