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Presidency Set To Effect Changes In BPE, Shortlists Three To Replace DG

By on December 15, 2011

THERE were strong indications yesterday that the Presidency is set to implement the recommendations of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Privatisation on the sordid sales of some firms.

But tension is building up in the Senate over the delay in considering the report of the probe of the privatisation and commercialisation of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

It was learnt that the government has short-listed three to replace the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mrs. Bola Onagoruwa.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that while Senate was probing the Bureau, there was pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene but he insisted that Nigerians have the right to know what went wrong in the BPE.

Based on the outcome of the Senate’s probe, the government has decided to reposition the BPE in line with its Transformation Agenda, including the change of leadership at the agency.

The Senate Committee, headed by Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (ANPP, Yobe North), which submitted its report  to the Senate on November 22, this year had recommended, among other things, the revocation of most privatised government companies and the removal of Onagoruwa.

Onagoruwa was found guilty of gross misconduct and incompetence, illegal and fraudulent sale of five per cent residual shares of the Federal Government in Eleme Petrochemical Company Limited (EPCL) Port Harcourt contrary to the BPE Act.

Findings confirmed that based on the probe, 10 names were recommended to the Presidency as replacement for the DG.

But out of the 10, three have been short-listed for consideration by the President.

The three candidates are a former Deputy Governor of Imo State, Mrs. Ada Okwuonu; Hadiza Magunu; and Mr Bello Sidi.

A reliable source in the presidency, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President is set to implement the report of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Privatisation and effect changes in the BPE.

“Since the Senate has passed a resolution, the President has made up his mind to implement the decision of the Upper Chamber on the BPE.

“There has been pressure on the President to intervene by halting the probe or ignoring the recommendations of the Senate. But the cabals holding forte in BPE have lost out.

“Already, out of 10 names recommended, three candidates have been short-listed as having “good potential” to reshape the BPE.

“The final choice of the new DG lies with the President based on the advice of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).”

The tension over the report may not be unconnected with the curious removal of the subject in the Order Paper yesterday.

But Senate legislative calendar circulated by Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, showed that the Senate will vacate for Christmas and New Year break on Tuesday, December 20 and resume on January 9, 2012.

Some Senators, who spoke to our correspondents on the development, wondered whether “some is amiss?”

One of the Senators, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, noted that “keeping the report in abeyance” could lead to speculation.

He said the zeal with which the Senate received the report should also have been used to approve or reject the recommendations of the committee.

He said: “Some of us are actually worried. We are not insinuating any thing yet, but we should avoid a situation where some water could pass under the bridge.”