Erstwhile Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nasir el-Rufai, has insisted that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar gave his approval in writing for the management contract over government owned Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) with a private firm, Pentascope, to be signed in 2003.
El-Rufai explained that the memo on which Atiku minuted his approval, with number BPE/I&N/NT/MC/DG/280, was dated February 20, 2003, and was initiated by the Director of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that was covering the Director General’s duties at the time.
In a statement on Monday by his Media Advisor, Muyiwa Adekeye, el-Rufai said by the virtue of the high office he then held, “Atiku knows that Pentascope was not foisted on NITEL, but emerged from a properly advertised and competitive selection process.
“After the failure of the first attempt to sell NITEL, it had been decided that there was need for a management contractor to keep the momentum of preparing the company to operate like a private entity and to preserve its assets.
“Pentascope resumed in NITEL on 28 April 2003, shortly before I left the BPE to become a minister.
“The Pentascope contract terms included obligations by the BPE to monitor the contract, and for the NITEL Board to set up an Executive Committee to supervise day to day operations in NITEL.
“Between the new BPE leadership that neglected its responsibilities, the NCP which Atiku chaired and which failed to supervise the BPE and the bureaucrats and politicians around the Ministry of Communications, the management contract was frustrated and terminated in 2005.
“When a former Vice-President asserts that NITEL was making N100 billion in profit annually, the mind must boggle that someone so unconstrained by fidelity to facts had once been saddled with significant responsibilities.
“NITEL never made such profits. NITEL had never paid a single dividend to the FGN until the BPE forced it to pay N3bn in 2001.
“While politicians and bureaucrats were fighting to reclaim ministerial control of NITEL (and the inflated equipment contracts that came with it), the company was fast losing market share to the new kids on the block, the GSM companies that understood how to create and sustain value,” el-Rufai’s statement read in part.
The statement added that since Atiku has spoken on the controversial NITEL GSM contract involving Ericsson and Motorola, “it is obvious that the attempt at confusing issues persists. It is untrue that the NITEL GSM contract in question was split.
“Rather it was awarded to Ericsson, but at the lower price submitted by Motorola, because of Atiku’s intense lobby and smears deployed to advance Ericsson’s bid.
“Atiku and Abdullahi Yari, his then ADC, at different times spoke to el-Rufai to favour Ericsson,” the statement said.
El-Rufai challenged Atiku to explain why he became an Ericsson salesman, “although the investigations conducted by Motorola after the debacle makes clear he was not engaged in an altruistic mission.
“This incident had diplomatic repercussions as the American government wrote to protest this loss by an American company that had submitted the cheaper bid.
“Atiku persists in his laughable assertion that El-Rufai’s brother is a shareholder and member of Motorola’s board – something any person can research and confirm to be an outright falsehood,” it added.
JD:I wonder ,can EL Rufai please show us documents to substantiate these claims?For us lesser minions we really don’t know who to believe here.However as far as credibility goes,we know who has had many questions to answer both at home and abroad,we know who has been accused of being involved in all manners of shady deals,and we know the antecedent of both men in public service from the start of their careers. Surely ladies and gentlemen you know who to believe among these two!