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Ex-NITEL MDs, union members blast El-Rufa’i over Pentascope deal

By on April 4, 2013

Some former chief executives, union members and retirees of failed national carrier, the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, have asked the Federal Government to hold the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nasir El-Rufa’i, responsible for the organisation’s collapse.

They said that the appointment of Pentascope, a little known Dutch company, to take over NITELs management in 2000 by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, during El-Rufai’s tenure as director- general was the cause of NITEL’s death and dismissed attempts by the former minister in a new book to pin the blame on former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

A former Managing Director of MTEL, NITEL’s GSM subsidiary, Mr. Kunle Bello, said yesterday that he foresaw the collapse of NITEL/MTEL due to insincere and inconsistent implementation of policies by the El-Rufa’i-led BPE.

Bello, who said he voluntarily resigned, described the Pentascope management brought in by El-Rufa’i as a disaster for the company and the staff, “who have been dying one after another” due to nonpayment of pensions.

Bello, an ITU telecommunications expert said Pentascope squandered more than N100 billion of NITEL’s hard-earned money, besides the loss of revenue without adding a single telephone line.

He challenged the nation’s judicial and executive arms of government to rise to the occasion to acquaint themselves of blame by going after the perpetrators of the fraud.

The former workers also said in a statement issued yesterday that the claim in a widely-circulated statement by El-Rufa’i that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar approved the appointment of Pentascope, the failed management consultant hired to manage NITEL in 2003, was false.

The former workers, who said they held El- Rufa’i responsible not only for the collapse of NITEL, but also the destruction of their careers, said the issue at stake is beyond the debate of who signed and who did not sign.

“The issue is who issued or originated the memorandum to the National Council on Privatisation, NCP? How did El-Rufa’i, as BPE director-general pick Pentascope to manage NITEL?”

The retirees accused El-Rufa’i of misleading, not only the NCP, but the Federal Government by presenting Pentascope as a capable management company that could turn NITEL around.

The retirees went on to say that the true story of the destruction of their national carrier has been revealed in two reports by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Quoting from the report, the retirees said that; “Rather than using Atiku as scapegoat for the collapse of NITEL to serve his hidden agenda, the concerned group of former NITEL workers advised El-Rufa’i to be honourable enough to accept responsibility for rail-roading and blackmailing the former NITEL board and the privatisation council into approving a contract that had short-changed Nigerians and children yet unborn.

Meanwhile, a former Managing Director of NITEL, Prof. Buba Bajoga, who agreed to speak on record, described the destruction of NITEL as “very painful.”

He said by the time he left the organisation as its head in 2000, NITEL was a very viable commercial organisation.

“We approved the payment of dividends to government and I remember that I left N15 billion and $200 million in the coffers of the organisation,” he said.

Bajoga said NITEL made more profit than most banks. “We paid all our bills and were financing all our projects,” he added.


( National Mirror )

  • Ali Abdulkadir

    How could El Rufai have thought he could shift the blame of
    the collapse of NITEL, costing Nigeria over one hundred billion naira on others
    and exonerate himself? Him it was who carried out the due diligence and
    recommended Pentascope to Nigeria and so must be fully accountable. Is this the
    same person aspiring to be the president come 2015? He might as well hang up
    that ambition now because we are tired of mediocre leaders wasting our time as
    a nation.

    • Umar Musa

      Well said, I don’t know if I can get your email for communications, mine is [email protected]