Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Two years after its dissolution, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo thursday inaugurated new members of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), the body responsible for making decisions on the sale and liberalisation of governmentâ€™s interests in national assets and companies.
According to a statement in Abuja by the Head of Public Communications in the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the secretariat of the NCP, Mr. Chukwuma Nwokoh, those who made it into the new and fifth NCP were Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, as Vice Chairman; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah; and Minister of National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma.
Others included the acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Hajia Habibat Lawal; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu; Mr. Ituah Ighodalo; Mr. Ghandi Olaoye; Senator A.A. Ibrahim; Dr. Bashir Gwandu; and Director General of BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, who is also the Secretary of the body chaired by Osinbajo.
According to the BPE, Osinbajo said the NCP had since its inception in 1999 successfully concluded the privatisation and reform of over 142 public enterprises.
He also pointed out that the inauguration of the NCP was a critical step in the process of putting in place part of the institutional framework necessary for the actualisation of the socio-economic agenda of the government.
â€œIt is also a demonstration of our administrationâ€™s commitment to public sector reform and the central role of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) in this process. Even though the public sector has been at the centre stage in the provision of critical infrastructure and services cutting across the whole spectrum of the nationâ€™s life since independence, the emerging importance and centrality of the private sector to the actualisation of the economic agenda of the administration cannot be downplayed,â€ said Osinbajo.
He stated that apart from playing a dominant role of generating employment opportunities, the intervention of the private sector enhances the process of industrialisation and delivery of critical infrastructure and services in the country.
He equally noted that with robust commitment, government could make its role of regulating and creating an enabling environment for private businesses a lot better.
â€œThis will in turn offer the private sector the required comfort and assurance to make investments and expect a reasonable return on thereon,â€ he said.
The acting president then pledged the governmentâ€™s commitment to giving all the required support to the NCP to undertake its statutory responsibilities.
He said: â€œIn return, the government expects the NCP to come up with creative out-of-the box solutions for addressing the numerous challenges facing the privatisation and commercialisation programmes such as non-performance by some privatised enterprises and post-privatisation challenges facing some of the privatised enterprises.â€
â€œThe government also expects the NCP to make measurable progress in respect of the outstanding transactions affecting some of the areas critical to the economic recovery of the nation. You must make deliberate and conscious efforts to learn from past experiences and guard against avoidable mistakes of the past,â€ he added.
On challenges experienced in privatised sectors of the country like electricity, Osinbajo said: â€œA mega reform process in the power sector is ongoing with ambitious expectations. Although there are numerous challenges trailing the process, the NCP is expected to critically analyse these challenges and come up with sustainable solutions as part of government commitment to make power available at accelerated rates and to wide sections of the populace.â€