N4bn NITEL equipment misappropriated, union claims

The Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations, SSACTAC, has said that over N4billion worth of kits and equipments belonging to NITEL were misappropriated when Pentascope took over the operations of the institution in the first six months.

The union said also that the Federal Government turned down the overtures of the workers in NITEL to buy and manage the firm, when it was obvious that the union has qualified and competent personnel that can turn NITEL’s fortunes around.

Speaking on Thursday, the President-General of the SSACTAC, Mr. Adetunji Adesunkanmi, said it is not safe for Nigeria to dispose of its national telecommunications carrier, and that no nation worth its salt carries on the business of governance without a national telecommunications carrier.

He said the Federal Government should consider reviving the NITEL for security reasons and economic reasons, pointing out the revival of NITEL would immediately cause a huge reduction in tariff and other abuses that phone users are subjected to in the country.

He said that NITEL would also come up with pocket-friendly charges and services for customers due to its national appeal.

The union president made reference to the House of Representatives resolution that directed the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, to compel the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to halt the liquidation of NITEL and its subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications Limited, MTEL.

Berating previous administrations in the country over the fate of NITEL, Adesunkanmi said nepotism, corruption and tribalism killed the institution, and that before the advent of mobile telephone system in Nigeria, NITEL will the leader in the sector with over one million functional lines “Successive administrations in Nigeria mishandled and mismanaged the privatisation of NITEL because of tribalism, nepotism and selfish desire to divert the nation’s resources to their personal wealth”, he said.

He insisted that the reform of railway services by the Federal Government, alongside a combination of factors such as nepotism, self aggrandisement and corruption killed the exercise; saying in order to get the reform right that the 1955 Act which placed the operation of railway under the exclusive preserve of FG must be revoked.

“The 1955 Railway Act is obnoxious and must be repealed. There must be legal framework to liberalise railway service in the country in order to allow the private sector to thrive. The private sector must be those who are tested, trusted and can turn the sector around,” he added.

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