By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Christiana Ekpa
Senate yesterday declared that it will soon begin a holistic investigation into all issues relating to the Concession and privatization of some government property in the Federal Capital Territory to the tune of N2.7 billion.
This was as it described the entire process as a national disaster and monumental fraud caused by leadership failure.
Against this backdrop, the upper legislative chamber through its committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT, Abuja) 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 at very last very lower rates 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 , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West vowed that the Senate would get to the root of the matter by bringing to book all the major players in the concession and privatization process of the property.
Melaye who described the process as real leadership failure and a national disaster, however warned that the country cannot allow this to continue if Nigeria as a country must grow, adding that the Committee would expose all those involved, even when it amounts to exhuming corpses if those involved are dead, adding that people pay to use Eagle Square, facilities at the International Conference Centre, ICC and other government investments, yet at the end of the day, there is zero remittance to the government.
He said, “ It is worthy of note that these FCT owned companies received huge returns on investment without making returns to FCT Administration.
“It is disheartening that inspite of the barrage of investments in the territory, with the private owners of these government establishments making huge amount of money, the revenue portion on these investments stood at zero over the years since 2008 to the coffers of the federal government.
“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 “.
Incidentally, the concession and privatization of these government property was carried out during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan presidency, just as the Ministers involved were Nasir El-Rufai, Aliyu Umar Modibbo, Senator Bala Mohammed etc.
Meanwhile, the FCTA Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello told the Committee that the Concession was not carried out now, just as he said that unfortunately, all those that took the decision were not in the hall and the present government, adding that the Senate must be commended for trying to right the wrongs that were made in the past.
He disclosed that he had put in place a seven-man interim management team headed by Dr. Bashir Isyaku to oversee the affairs of the AICL, just as he pleaded with the Senate to give the Committee time to complete its assignment before presenting it to the Senate Committee.
Some of the concessioned property were Garki Hospital, Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Eagle Square, International Conference Centre etc.