Although President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the ministry of communication to provide details of the recent privatisation of the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile arm, MTEL, to ascertain whether or not Nigeria was short-changed.
Speaking to journalists sometime on August 19, 2015 after briefing the president on the activities of the ministry of communications, before the appointment of the ministers, the former Permanent Secretary Tunji Olaopa said the president requested that a memo detailing how the transaction was processed be submitted directly to him for further directive on the issue to no avail.
He had said that Mr. Buhari was concerned about the possibility of Nigeria not receiving a fair value from the deal.
“The president was also concerned about the liquidation of NITEL. He is not opposed to its privatization but he wants to know… and he wants us to bring a memo on how the whole transaction was undertaken so that he would know whether Nigeria was short-changed,” he had said then.
Mr. Olaopa said the president was very concerned about the whole issue of privatization that is hindering investments in ICT and said “that he will personally champion this. The president talked about the potentials of the ICT sector in generating employment,” Mr. Olaopa was quoted.
He said Mr. Buhari was also concerned about the quality of service from telecom operators in the country. Nearly one year six months after this report nothing has been heard about the investigation inspite of the fact that substantive ministers has been appointed for the Ministry of Communication with a new Permanent Secretary – has president Buhari decided to soft-pedal because el-Rufai is involved?
The privatisation of the NITEL and MTEL was completed in December 2014 after the financial bid was opened in October 2014 by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
A consortium run by the now failed Skye Bank’s chairman, Tunde Ayeni, the founder of Sahara Energy, Tonye Cole, and two other companies, received the nod from the Nigerian government to take over the two companies for $242.3 million (about N42.4 billion).
Their investment vehicle, NATCOM Telecommunications, emerged the sole bidder for the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL and Mtel.
NATCOM has as members NATSPACE Telecommunication Investment Limited, PCCW Global Limited, Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyi Estate Development & Services Limited, Legal Resources Alliance & Co., Sahara Energy Resources Limited, and LM Ericsson Nigeria Limited.
Of the seven firms, Mr. Ayeni, profiled as a businessman and lawyer on Skye Bank’s website, owns three.
He is the founder and operator of Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyi Estate Development & Services Limited, and Legal Resources Alliance & Co. There were suggestions that he has link with NATSPACE, but PowerSteering could not independently verify that claim.
In December 2014, Mr. Ayeni led NATCOM in its acquisition of NITEL/MTEL less than two months after he also led Skye Bank to buy Mainstreet Bank from Assets Management Company of Nigeria, for N120 billion.
In 2013, Mr. Ayeni was the chief promoter of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Limited, a group that eventually bought the Ibadan and Yola electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs. Mr. Cole is the owner of Sahara Energy, while LM Ericsson is a subsidiary of Swedish group, Ericsson.
NATCOM, which merges the seven firms, appears to be a new corporate entity created solely for the purchase of NITEL/MTEL. Very little is known about the consortium. NATCOM emerged winner after NETTAG Consortium, another little known group, was disqualified for failing to attach a $10million bid bond to its bid submission as stipulated in the Request for Proposals (RFP) to prospective bidders.
History of failed sales
Before the acquisition, four previous attempts to sell NITEL failed.
Nigeria started the process of privatising the national telecom groups in 2000 as part of the government’s reform of the telecommunications sector.
In 2001, the government tried to sell 51 per cent equity to Investors International London Limited (IILL) as the strategic core investor.
There was also the failed management contract by Pentascope in 2005, the aborted Orascom Telecoms bid in 2005, and the strategic core investor sale through negotiated sale strategy to Transcorp that was cancelled in 2009.
The last effort was the strategic core investor sale in 2011, where New Generation Communications Limited and Omen International emerged preferred and reserved bidders respectively.
Following the last failed attempt, former Vice President Namadi Sambo-led National Council on Privatisation, adopted the guided liquidation strategy for the sale of NITEL/MTEL.
However, here are the details of how former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and now the incumbent governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and PricewaterhouseCooper dubiously awarded the contract to manage NITEL to Pentascope International and made Nigeria to lose over N100 billion.
In a crowd of the physically endowed, Nasir el-Rufai, former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, had conspicuously shown himself as the squirrel is in the Animal Kingdom. Barely four foot six and so frail of frame, el-Rufai is, however, adequately compensated upstairs with outstanding intellect and generally, with a constitution so steely it sometimes borders on arrogance.
On 18 March 2003, that latter quality surged to the fore and literally tore to shreds a vital document that could well have saved the nation the sum of N100 billion lost to a most dubious management contract. The message in the document, from Dr. Haliru Bello, then Minister of Communications and titled, “NITEL Management Contract Signing Ceremony,” was terse but instructively frank. “In view of the prevailing circumstances surrounding the Management Contract,” it read, “you are advised to halt the signing ceremony scheduled for today, 18th March 2003, until further notice.” The letter was signed by Engineer G.O Asiegbu, permanent secretary of the Communications Ministry for the minister.
Inside the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where the signing ceremony was holding, Dr. Anaze Chinwuba, then chairman of the NITEL Board of Directors, who received the message, drew el-Rufai’s attention to it. But, as Chinwuba told a two-day public hearing organized in February 2005 by the House of Representatives Committee on Communication on the management contract, el-Rufai flew off the handle when he saw the directive to stop the signing. According to Chinwuba, the FCT minister retorted that he would not take directives from permanent secretaries, as he was also one.
With that arrogant disposition and some strokes of the pen, the BPE committed the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, into the hands of a hangman. As el-Rufai himself told the hearing, he was already fixated on giving away the management of NITEL to Pentascope International, an emergency vehicle that was later discovered and el-Rufai knew very well to be unqualified in all ramifications, to manage the parastatal.
If he would be believed, he was doing it innocently. The Minister’s excuse was his infuriation at the couple of delays that the signing of the contract had suffered, and he was eager to prise the operations of ailing NITEL away from the leprous fingers of the public service and place them in the competent, reliable grasp of a private manager. In his judgement and that of Price Waterhouse Coopers, PWC, BPE’s Adviser, that manager was Pentascope.
How competent, honest and reliable Pentascope was would manifest within a year after it sank its teeth into NITEL. Between April 2003 and March 2004, Pentascope had squandered a gain of N15 billion which it inherited to record a loss of N19.15 billion. Turnover had also dropped to N41 billion from N53 billion. Even as revenue generation was taking a flight, el-Rufai’s brilliant managers were redefining prudence, as direct cost and overheads spiralled from N21.3 billion and N19.4 billion respectively, to N26.3 billion and N30 billion.
Pentascope’s performance could not have been otherwise, considering its unimpressive financial, managerial and professional pedigree. The Dutch firm was only three months old when the BPE advertised for Expressions of Interest to manage NITEL. A small consulting company, rather than an active telecoms operator,
Pentascope was registered on, of all days, 1 January 2002, which was a public holiday worldwide, with a workforce of only eight persons, including its janitor.
It was not even registered in Nigeria to do business, as required by the Companies and Allied Matters Act. Both Professor Augustine Odinma, internationally renowned telecoms consultant, and the House of Representatives Communications Committee wondered how Pentascope got to be favoured by PWC and the BPE as the management contractor for NITEL, as the firm did not meet any of the criteria the Bureau listed in its advertisement. Yet Mallam el-Rufai remains an incorruptible man today. The pre-qualification criteria demanded that “Interested managers MUST be international telecommunications operators and MUST demonstrate, one, evidence of having installed and managed at least a million telephones; two, a successful track record of expanding a telecommunications network in a developing country; and three, sufficient management resources to grow NITEL and enhance shareholder value. Yet el-Rufai has the audacity to call Atiku corrupt.
Unless the advertisement was sheer window dressing, what the BPE under Mallam el-Rufai set out to do was unambiguous. It was looking for a telecoms operator of international standing, with outstanding track records. From the beginning, the BPE appreciated that “for any telecoms operator to be qualified to manage NITEL, it must demonstrate that it possesses the above mentioned criteria,” as noted by the House committee.
Clearly, Pentascope did not meet any of the requirements but Mallam el-Rufai signed the BPE agreement. At the hearing, the BPE and PWC engaged in buck-passing on who gave the Dutch firm the clean health bill that secured it the NITEL deal. Under oath at the public hearing, the Managing
Director of PWC, Mr. Ken Igbokwe said services of the consulting firm to the BPE were restricted to financial advisory. But el-Rufai clarified that the PWC was involved in the entire selection process. PWC, it was, that assisted the BPE in evaluating and short listing the initial 14 companies that applied to nine. The two bodies subsequently invited the nine companies to submit managerial, technical and financial bids. Of the nine, four were disqualified.
After a purported due diligence process and review of the five bids, PWC narrowed the list down to three. These are African Access/Lucent, which demanded $230 million to turn NITEL around and was awarded 56.8 points; BNSL/TCIL, which charged $35 million to do the job for three years and was scored 71.5 points; and Pentascope, which charged $45 million to execute the contract over the same period and was given 75.5 points. Pentascope’s high scores were hinged mainly on one factor: It claimed a working agreement with KPN, the Netherlands leading telecoms company. During evaluation, PWC and the BPE would be expected to have conducted extensive investigations of Pentascope’s claims and verification of the documents it submitted. To hoodwink stakeholders, especially the NITEL board of directors and the National Council on Privatization, NCP, before the management contract was signed, the two buddies (BPE and PWC) submitted that Pentascope was, until 2002, owned by KPN. “Pentascope,” PWC and BPE told the NITEL board and the NCP, “had provided evidence of KPN’s commitment to continue to provide them with support and technical assistance as required.”
However, as was later exposed, these claims were gross misrepresentations willfully fabricated to mislead the NITEL board, the NCP, the federal government and inquisitive stakeholders. Pentascope was never owned by KPN. On the contrary, the former was only a supplier to the latter. Odinma, who consults for the House Communication Committee and whose dogged probing unearthed some of the malpractices that attended the Pentascope scam, explained that the firm, being a “type II consultant, is a stand-alone company, with limited consultancy skills and liability.” Interpreted, Pentascope is unsuitable for full-scale management of large telecommunication companies like NITEL.
How PWC and the BPE did not knock off Pentascope’s claim at the evaluation stage, only officials of the two bodies can explain. At the public hearing in February 2005, the House committee members and participants drilled PWC’s Igbokwe and Nick Allen, one of the company’s directors, on the criteria that informed the choice of Pentascope as the preferred management contractor and on the authenticity of the documents it submitted for the evaluation. A member asked Igbokwe whether Pentascope, which PWC recommended, had ever installed a million lines in any developing country or has any track record of financial ability as strictly demanded by the PBE advert.
The PWC chief responded that applications were considered on the basis of consortium or technical partnership, rather than solo qualifications. PWC, Igbokwe said, believed that Pentascope was affiliated with KPN. Not satisfied with Igbokwe’s response, chairman of the hearing, Hon. Yemi Akodare, requested for clarification. He told Igbokwe: “Let me try and simplify this issue. The issue is that Pentascope International, which won the bid, is not a telecoms operator. It is a consulting firm. The first point that we actually wanted you to clear here is this. In this publication, we were looking for an International Telecommunications Operator, and when you talk of an International Telecommunications Operator, a consulting firm is here bidding. Do you see that consulting firm qualifying in the bid?” A flummoxed Igbokwe, rather than answer the question himself, beckoned on Allen to confront the legislators.
The PWC director stated that organizations that undertake telecommunications management contracts, whether in Africa or elsewhere, only need to be associated with large telecoms companies. He cited Pentascope as an example. “What we expected was the kind of organization that came forward. But we were looking for who was behind them, who they were affiliated with and also the capabilities of the people that they were putting forward,” Allen said. The legislators further stretched Igbokwe and Allen in the question-and-answer session.
The Chairman: Pricewaterhouse Coopers. That is a big name and full of integrity, is it not? Based on whatever documents that Pentascope presented, what was the basis of your assessment or evaluation of these documents? How much diligence work did you do to verify on ground, for example, the authenticity of the kinds of documents or claims that Pentascope made to you as Pricewaterhouse Coopers?
Mr. Nick Allen: It is not typically part of the role of the financial adviser to do that and it was not in the scope of work we do for BPE. I have seen circumstances where financial advisers have been asked to do that if circumstances suggest it appropriate but in this situation, it was not considered.
Question from A Hon. Member: If I heard you well, you said that it was not within your scope of job. Is that what you said? Mr. Nick Allen: Your original question was whether we carried out detailed diligence on the bidders and I am saying that it was not part of our scope of work.
A Hon. Member: If that is not within your scope of work, how are you going to analyse it and how are you going to advise BPE? BPE is about selling the first carrier of Nigeria. That is NITEL. If you feel that as financial advisers it is not your duty to do the due diligence, then what is your job?
Mr. Nick Allen: Our job is to support BPE, consistent with the terms of reference as set out for us, which did not include detailed due diligence on the bidders.
A Hon. Member: I want to refer you to your document here. Page 19, your rating of Pentascope. There is a statement there, “sound technical.” What do you mean by sound technical? How did you come out with that conclusion that Pentascope is sound technical?
The Chairman: Pricewaterhouse Coopers, it is like you are having problems answering some of these questions?
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: He asked us a question and we do not know the document that he was referring to.
The Chairman: But these are the documents that you presented to us. You brought these documents to us yesterday and I am sure that definitely, you must have looked at these documents.
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: He just said sound technical, page 19, and we do not have page 19, so we need to find out what page it is and try and respond to you.
Mr. Nick Allen: We have found the reference, and the document that you were referring to was a presentation made to the NITEL Board which attempted to capture the results of the evaluation of the documents that had been submitted by the bidders, their proposals for managing NITEL. That was a process that involved a number of people both from BPE and ourselves reviewing the documents and evaluating them against such detailed evaluation criteria that had been agreed at the beginning of the process. On the basis of that, Pentascope scored very highly.
The Chairman: They asked you if you did a due diligence in respect of this presentation that was given to you by these companies. It is just for you to say that yes, we did our due diligence and we confirmed all the presentations that they did, or that we did not.
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: With respect to the question on “sound technical,” what it actually said on this document is sound technical and organizational proposals.
Remember that part of the process that we are evaluating these bidders for is what they plan to do and how they plan to do it. What this is referring to, I believe, is that they have strong technical proposal for what they are going to do when they get into NITEL… Whereas the relationship between Pentascope and KPN is by Technical Support Agreement that they have – (interruptions)
The Chairman: Can you clear that point when you talk about Technical Support Agreement? Did you by any chance see any Technical Support Agreement?
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: I believe that there was and it was included in the Management Contract binding them and their affiliates.
The Chairman: Did you see that document and will you be able to produce a copy of that document? Mr. Nick Allen: Yes, and as Ken was saying, it is part of the NITEL Management Contract.
The Chairman: This is the Management Contract here. Can you please give it to him and let him see if he can bring it for us. (Passes the document to Mr. Nick Allen)
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: Mr. Chairman, if you remember the note that I sent to you to forward these documents, I was basically saying to you that these are copies of documents that BPE gave to us. We know that this was referred to in this document; they are copies of everything that we had. So, I would not imagine that it would be included in this document without being part of the document that was signed. What I am trying to say is that the copies that we have and we gave to you are copies of everything sent to us by the BPE as advisers and that was what we forwarded to you.
We have looked through that briefly and it is actually reference, although it is not part of the appendix. So we cannot give you what we do not have. What I mean is that we only gave you what we have, we are not party to the contract.
The Chairman: Was there a technical agreement?
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: Yes, we did see it at the time of evaluation.
The Chairman: Look at Schedule G there. It must be what you are talking about.
Please, can you open to the schedules and look at it, because there is no way you are going to have an agreement with somebody who is just a consulting firm, and here you are looking for an international telecommunications operator. You must have definitely seen a binding agreement during your due diligence search or your due diligence investigation.
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: At the risk of trying to sound legalistic, what we are saying is that these documents that we have, that we forwarded to you, were copies of things sent to us by the BPE. At the time that all of these were being done, we actually did see those agreements and they were supposed to be an integral part of this final copy, but obviously, it is not there because Schedule G referred to the two agreements, one with VWN and the other with KPN. What we forwarded to you were electronic copies of what was given to us, without prejudice to our position.
The Chairman: Sorry, it has to be clear that, being an appendix and it is supposed to be part of the agreement, are you suggesting now that BPE must have sent to us something different from what they submitted to you?
Mr. Ken Igbokwe: I have not made any such suggestion. I am just looking at the facts and the fact is that what we forwarded are copies of what we have. This is because we are not party to that agreement. BPE would only send to us copies and we would just file that because it is an electronic copy, and that was what I printed and sent to you. It should be part of the agreement.
The Chairman: You have now said that there is another agreement which you actually verified and you found out that agreement was a technical agreement between KPN and Pentascope. It is very important because whatever you are telling us here is already on record.
How el-Rufa’i killed NITEL
On the strength of this report the former chief executives, union and group of retirees from the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) on the 3rd of April, 2013 (ten years later) rose stoutly against an attempt by former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i to reject the blame for the destruction of the telecommunications monopoly, urging the Federal Government to hold the former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) solely responsible for this monumental national loss.
One of the former managing directors of MTEL, the GSM arm of NITEL, Mr. Kunle Bello, who voluntarily resigned so he could avoid the touted new managers, Pentascope, said he foresaw the collapse of NITEL/MTEL due to insincere and inconsistent implementation of policies by the El-Rufa’i-led BPE. He described the Pentascope management brought in by El-Rufa’i as an “irredeemable misfortune” upon the telecommunications industry and an unmitigated disaster on NITEL/MTEL staff, “who have been dying one after another” due to non-payment of their pensions.
Bello, an ITU telecommunications engineer, said Pentascope allegedly squandered more than N100 billion of NITEL’s hard-earned income, besides the loss of revenue without adding a single telephone line. He challenged the judicial and executive arms of government to rise to the occasion to absolve themselves of blame by going after the perpetrators of the fraud. In a statement signed and issued by the group of retirees in Abuja on that day, they disagreed with the claim in a widely-circulated statement by El-Rufa’i that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar approved the appointment of Pentascope, the failed management consultant hired to manage NITEL in 2003.
The former workers who said they held El-Rufa’i responsible not only for the collapse of NITEL, but also the destruction of their careers, said the issue at stake is beyond the debate of who signed and who did not sign. “The issue is who issued or originated the memorandum to the National Council on Privatization (NCP)? How did El-Rufa’i, as DG, BPE, pick Pentascope to manage NITEL?” The retirees accused El-Rufa’i of misleading, not only the NCP, but the entire Federal Government by presenting Pentascope as a capable management company that could turn around NITEL.
One of such former employees, Michael Awos, who put in 30 years as a technical staff beginning with the defunct P & T, said that Pentascope was brought purposely to “siphon money and kill this organisation (NITEL) they had spent all their lives to build. “He el-Rufai allegedly broke and twisted all the rules to make Pentascope win. Penstascope was one and the same with El-Rufa’i. The face of Pentascope was represented by El-Rufai’s two closest friends Mr. Hassan Musa Usman and Tijjani Abdullahi. Pentascope in Holland was a one-man office. It had a single room as office. Its rolling mast was on top of a church building. The retirees also said that the true story of the destruction of their national carrier was revealed in two reports by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Quoting from the report, the retirees said that “rather than using Atiku as scape goat for the collapse of NITEL to serve his hidden agenda, the concerned group of former NITEL workers advised El-Rufa’i to be honourable enough to accept the responsibility for railroading and blackmailing the former NITEL board and the privatization council into approving a contract that had short-changed Nigerians and children yet unborn. According to these former NITEL workers who described themselves as the “human debris of the destruction wrought on NITEL by El-Rufai’s selfish and callous agenda to short-change Nigerians,” the former BPE DG should apologize to Nigerians for his misdeeds.
They recalled that in May 2003, the House of Representatives exposed the underbelly of El-Rufai’s alleged hypocrisy to mislead government and Nigerians about the Pentascope management contract. The committee they said, found that the evaluation of the bids was “suspect” and that Pentascope lied on its true legal status and origin, which the group said El-Rufa’i allegedly covered up. The former NITEL workers said the House found that Pentascope was supposedly registered on January 1, 2002, which was a public holiday in European countries. Despite the alleged inaccuracies and lies by Pentascope, the group accused El-Rufa’i of imposing the Dutch company on a hostile NITEL board, its workers and Nigerians.
According to the group, the Pentascope’s alleged misadventure led to NITEL’s profits nose-diving from N15 billion in 2002 and turned it into a loss of N19 billion in 2003. The group, quoting the House Communications Committee report, also said that NITEL’s turnover dropped from N53 billion to N41 billion. Despite the dramatic drop in turnover under Pentascope management, the group alleged that direct and overhead costs increased from N21.3 billion to N26.3 billion and from N19.4 billion to N30 billion. The NITEL former staff advised El-Rufa’i to focus on these issues rather than using others as a scapegoat, saying that it is not uncommon for leaders to be misled by clever liars into signing something that turned out to be fraudulently arranged to produce a desired outcome.
The retired NITEL workers wondered why El-Rufa’i thinks the House, the former NITEL board and others that exposed the fraudulent process of handing over NITEL to Pentascope were wrong but he was right. Comrade Elias Kazzah, National Adviser of the Senoir Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTC) and President of NITEL unit of the association, also called on El-Rufa’I to shut up on account of his alleged mismanagement of the Pentascope transaction that led to the demise of the company. He said that NITEL was so commercially viable that it contributed to NIPOST and provided support to the ECOMOG troops in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He recalled that the BPE under El-Rufa’i rebuffed other options put on the table for revamping NITEL even though they had failed at six previous attempts at addressing the NITEL’s imbroglio. Comrade Kazzah regretted El-Rufa’i’s handling of the controversial management contract, insisting that the “coming of Pentascope was through the backdoor.”
According to him, to demonstrate its reservation against the deal, NITEL workers blocked the gates of Transcorp Hilton venue of the signing of the management contract between BPE and Pentascope, but claimed that El-Rufa’i surreptitiously smuggled the parties to the deal through the back. He noted that Pentascope came on board with the preconceived agenda to have a run on NITEL’s the huge cash, both local and foreign currencies at that time and to disorganise and frustrate the network. Meanwhile, a former Managing Director of NITEL, Prof. Buba Bajoga, who agreed to speak on record, decried the destruction of NITEL as “very painful.”
He said by the time he left the organization as its head in 2000, NITEL was a very viable commercial organization. “We approved the payment of dividends to government and I remember that I left N15 billion and U.S. Dollar 200 million in the coffers of the organization,” he said. Bajoga said NITEL made more profit than most banks. “We paid all our bills and were financing all our projects,” he added.
FCT Probe: Senate Panel Wants El-Rufai to Refund N32b
In another development, Former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Nasir el-Rufai, had been compelled to refund N32 billion missing from the proceeds from the sale of government houses, most of which he sold to himself and made and signed 100 C of Os on the eve of his departure from office.
That is the recommendation of the Senate FCT Committee which probed the affair and, which, in its report, had branded him then as unfit for public office.
The committee also recommended that one of the guest houses of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, which el-Rufai bought be retrieved from him because he abused his office by the action.
The recommendations were contained in an interim report of the committee which probed the FCT administration between 1999-2007.
Committee Chairman, Abubakar Sodangi had presented the report to the Senate on the 10th July, 2008 Thursday, but it could not be debated then before the Chamber began its recess.
Part of it reads: “All officers who disobeyed or ordered the disobedience of the court orders should be prosecuted by the Attorney General of the Federation;
“Also on the sale of Federal Government houses, the total receipt is N96.7 billion and deductions were N34.2 billion. The balance was given as N62.19 billion. The bank statements show only N29 billion, leaving a balance of only N32 billion unaccounted for despite all demands from him (el-Rufai) and his officers.
“After assessing the activities of Nasir el-Rufai in his duties as Minister of the (FCT), we came to the inevitable conclusion that:
-“He should account for all funds collected by the ad-hoc bodies he raised during his tenure; namely Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS), Committee on Sale of Government Houses in the FCT, the Satellite Town Development Agency, Abuja Investments and Property Development Company, among others.
-“The house (el-Rufai) obtained for himself where he signed as lessor and lessee be revoked, as a person cannot sell an item to himself.
-“el-Rufai is not a fit and proper person to hold public office in a democratic set up.”
Four years ago, the House of Representatives had also barred el-Rufai from holding any public office for life over his role in the contract awarded to Pentascope to manage the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).
That followed the adoption of the recommendations of its Committee on Communications which held a pubic hearing on the alleged fraud in the selection of a management contractor, the manner in which Pentascope emerged, as well as the loss of over N100 billion by NITEL in the process.
The House unanimously agreed with the committee that el-Rufai “acted in subterfuge and in perpetuating executive rascality, he positioned Pentascope to squander over N100 billion of taxpayers’ money and as such should not go unpunished.”
It also barred former NITEL Board Chairman, Vincent Maduka, Benard Verr, and S. Asinugo from holding public office for life.
El-Rufai was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) when the contract was awarded.
Some people have all the luck in the word. El-Rufai who, as we have just seen and read, single-handedly ruined NITEL and left it flat on its back, was rewarded by Obasanjo with another pot of gold when he was appointed Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. For a habitual glutton, this was too much temptation.
But still, nobody could hold El-Rufai accountable or stop him, let alone punish him, rather he has escaped the wrath of the law and risen to become the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, covered by executive immunity where he is now wracking more havoc and perpetrate more heinous crimes against the people of Kaduna and the nation at large while still nursing his ambition of being re-elected and becoming the President in 2023. President Buhari should be advised to watch his back now while the people of Kaduna should be very careful and vote wisely in 2019.