BPE pass vote of confidence on port concession

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Matthew Otoijagha

Over 60 per cent of the privatized enterprises in the country, including the concession of terminal operation at the nation’s seaports, have done well, says the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), Alex Okoh.

Okoh singled out power companies and the seaports as top performance despite the country’s infrastructural gap. Terminal operations at the nation’s seaports were handed over to private companies in 2006 under a comprehensive port reform program carried out by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Over 140 public enterprises across various sectors of the economy have gone through the process of either full or partial privatization or full or partial commercialization in the last 30 years. He spoke at the inauguration of the Stakeholders Engagement Committee (SEC) by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who also double as the chairman of the committee.

Okoh said, “In the last 30 years of the enterprise reform journey in Nigeria, the Bureau and its predecessor, the TCPC have reformed over 140 public enterprises across various sectors of the economy including banking and Insurance, oil and gas, power, hospitality, pensions and telecommunications, through the process of full or partial privatization, full or partial commercialization and concessioning.

“Of these privatized enterprises, over 60% have achieved a good level of performance. The power generation companies are performing very well. I can also tell you that the seaports are performing despite some Infrastructural constraints.”

The BPE boss however confirmed that there is a negative perception of privatization by Nigerians despite the success of privatization. The need to change the narrative, he said necessitated the setting up of the stakeholders’ engagement committee.

“It can thus be seen that there is something of a mismatch between public perception of privatization and the reality of its value and contribution to the economy,” he said.

Stressing the need for the committee, the BPE boss said, “There is a clear and present need to build support and understanding for the Federal Government’s reform agenda by effectively communicating the considerable benefits of privatization. There is also an urgent need to allay the concerns and fears of key stakeholders whilst ensuring that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into consideration,” he said.

The committee, Okoh also noted should help curb the activities of usurpers, which tends to compromise and conflict with the statutory functions of the National Council on Privatization and its secretariat, the Bureau.

In his remark, Lai Mohammed noted that the current administration recognizes and actively promotes the participation of private sector in the strategic economic agenda of the nation. He therefore assured the government that the committee will do everything possible to change the narratives.

He stressed further that the function of the government is to provide enabling environment including providing critical infrastructure.

He said, “Let me use this opportunity to reiterate that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari recognizes and actively promotes the participation of the private sector in the strategic economic agenda of the nation.

The committee, he said, is also saddled with a huge responsibility of reaching out to all stakeholders.
“That is why it has become very necessary for us to do all that we can to ensure that the committee lives up to its responsibilities by ensuring that we identify and maintain contacts with various stakeholders and opinion leaders; and advise Council on their interests and concerns about the program which is one of the requirements of the committee.

“This pro-business posture of the government is eminently reflected in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of this government. We believe that the key business of government is to provide an enabling environment for private businesses to thrive and build economic prosperity for the generality of Nigerians, including the provision of critical infrastructure through public private partnership,” he said.

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