Nigeria must diversify economy, says President

• Govt appoints liquidator for M-Tel, NITEL

• Seven firms shortlisted for Kaduna Disco, three for Afam

• N59.55b proceed from Egbin sale for bulk trader, BPE

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan Thursday admitted that the increasing exploitation and utilisation of shale gas and other alternative sources of energy by the United States (U.S.) and other advanced nations had made it more urgent for Nigeria to move faster towards the diversification of its economy.

A statement from the office of his spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, quoted the president as making the observation while speaking in an interview with China Television, in Beijing. Jonathan noted that the increasing utilisation of alternative sources of energy was a matter of concern for Nigeria and other oil-exporting nations.

“That is why we have to increase the pace of diversifying our economy and moving our country away from dependence on the oil and gas industry. We must work towards greater industrialisation, add more value to our agricultural products, develop our solid minerals’ potential and other sectors of our economy before the time comes when crude oil may no longer be dominant as a global source of energy,” Jonathan stated.

At a meeting with the Nigerian community in China, the president commended the National Assembly for its ongoing process of expanding the coverage of the Local Content Act to sectors other than oil and gas, saying that the move would further stimulate domestic industrialisation and contribute significantly to the desired diversification of the country’s economy.

Responding to concerns raised by a member of the community about Nigerian professionals having to compete with expatriates from China and other countries for employment opportunities in the country, the President said our immigration laws and expatriate quotas provide adequate protection for workers.

“If our immigration personnel do their job as they are expected to do it, then you are all adequately protected,” he said.

Jonathan urged Nigerian students and professionals in China to imbibe the positive traits of the Chinese and come home to contribute to national development.

“You are in a country that is a super power, a country that is technologically developed, a country of hardworking people who work day and night. If you imbibe this culture and pass through their training, you will all be in a position to come home and help us to develop our own country,” the president told students and professionals at the interactive session.

He assured them that his administration was totally committed to making a positive difference in the lives of all Nigerians.

“As a people, we must build our country. I can assure you that we are working steadily to do so. Our vision and roadmap are very clear,” Jonathan told members of the Nigerian community.

Before his meeting with them, the President addressed a large audience of Chinese investors at a Nigeria-China Business Forum in the Beijing World Trade Centre and urged them to take advantage of the very generous investment incentives currently being offered by the Federal Government.

Jonathan assured the Chinese business community of the safety of their investments in Nigeria.

In the meantime, a liquidator has finally been appointed for the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) Plc and the Mobile Telecommunications (M-Tel) Plc.

At the end of a meeting of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) in Abuja, Olutola Senbore and Co was announced as the firm to liquidate the moribund entities.

It is not clear how the NCP’s decision would be taken by the National Assembly, as the Senate Committee on Privatisation had this week insisted that it would not allow the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to liquidate NITEL. Several attempts to sell off the entities have failed in the past.

The BPE had said in April that it would conclude the liquidation of NITEL this month after the emergence of a preferred liquidator among the five that showed interest. This has met with opposition from the National Assembly.

The Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngana, told reporters after a meeting of the NCP in Abuja yesterday that the Federal Government would proceed with the liquidation of the two firms. He was silent on the Senate’s stance.

He said: “We are also happy to announce that at last, a liquidator has been appointed for NITEL and M-Tel and this liquidator was reached after several bids were received from about eight companies. At the end of the day, five were pre-qualified and after analysis, we picked a successful liquidator, Olutola Senbore and Co.”

Besides, N59.55 billion out of the proceed of the sale of Egbin Power plant has been allocated to the BPE and the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET).

Ngana said the money was for “some of the activities of both the bulk trader and BPE itself.”

He went on: “One of the major issues discussed was the continuation of the privatization of NITEL. You will recall that the last time when we met, we did not conclude the privatization of Kaduna Disco and Afam Genco.

“For Kaduna Disco, we have seven companies that have been pre-qualified and they will now proceed to the next stage. They are Axis Power Distribution Ltd, NAHCO Consortium, INCAR Consortium Aiteo Consortium, LEDA consortium Ltd, Nothwest Power Ltd, Copperbelt Consortium.

“For Afam, the companies are Primezia Energy Ltd, TES Power Ltd, Talevares Group. Fobby Energy Ltd was disqualified. These companies have been cleared to proceed to the financial bid stage.

“We have also approved for the BPE N59.55 billion out of the proceed of the sale of Egbin Power plant for some of the activities of both the bulk trader and BPE itself. For the bulk trader, N50 billion has been set aside and this will be the guarantee for the signing off of the power purchase agreement so that the generating companies will feel comfortable that they will have money to actually pay them.

“To proceed further with the privatisation of the power companies, the BPE also needs some money to continue with the several consultancy works, the sum of N9.55billion has been set aside to meet these expenses.

“We have also discussed the issue of the transfer from the pre-completion liability of PHCN to the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NEMCO). Another memo will be presented in the next meeting to give us details of what the liabilities are and the amount involved but in principle, we have agreed for the BPE to continue with the transfer of these liabilities to NEMCO.”

He also spoke on the BPE’s ability to prepare other potential companies for privatisation. These include the national park, the national stadium, and the river basin.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Namadi Sambo has restated the Federal Government’s commitment to the timely completion of the Abuja (Idu)-Kaduna railway transportation project. He said the Jonathan administration had made adequate contingency plans to source funds from the Subsidy Re-Investment Programme (SURE-P) to tackle any financing gap in the project.

The contract for the Abuja (Idu)-Kaduna railway project valued at $847,308,704.00 million was originally awarded in 2010 but the execution of the preliminary stages of the project commenced in 2011.The completion period is December 31, 2014.

Sambo disclosed this in Idu during the commencement of the track-laying of the Abuja (Idu)-Kaduna Standard Gauge Railway Modernisation Project. He also stressed that the project was a deliberate initiative of the Federal Government to facilitate urban mass transportation

Author: nmmin

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