BPE: Most Nigerians Have Bad Impression of Privatisation of Public Utilities

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) wednesday said most Nigerians have erroneous impression of the federal government’s privatisation programme, adding that a good percentage of about 140 government’s companies that have been privatised in the last 30 years were doing well.

The Director General of the BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, stated this at the formal inauguration of the Stakeholders Engagement Committee (SEC) of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, in Abuja.

A statement from the Head of Public Communications at the BPE, Amina Othman, said apart from Okoh’s claims, Mohammed also stated that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, was open to private sector operators and has remained keen on providing them the enabling environment to participate in developing Nigeria’s economy.

Okoh called on the committee to correct the erroneous impression that privatisation has been unmindful of the interests of the Nigerian public.

He urged the SEC to reverse this reported misconception on privatisation by Nigerians through robust stakeholder engagement.

He equally asked the committee, “to help harmonise the public enterprise reform agenda under the supervision of the NCP, whilst also promoting a favourable perception and application of the privatisation programme in the mind of the public as well as local and international investors.”
According to him, the benefits of privatisation have not been universally acknowledged or appreciated in Nigeria. He added that it is believed that privatised enterprises may have been sold for far less than their actual market value and that the enterprises may be under performing.

Okoh however, stated that in 30 years since the country embarked on reform of its public enterprises, a high percentage of the 140 privatised public enterprises across the various sectors of the economy have achieved a good level of performance.

“It can thus be seen that there is something of a mismatch between public perception of privatisation and the reality of its value and contribution to the economy. Accordingly, the importance of an effective stakeholder engagement strategy cannot be overemphasised.

“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 privatisation,” he stated.
Mohammed on his part, noted that the constitution of the committee was an opportunity for the government to enforce its integrity by ensuring that privatisation in the country was carried out transparently.

The statement equally noted that Mohammed who was appointed the chairman of the committee, charged them to identify and maintain contacts with the various stakeholders and opinion leaders to be able to advise the NCP on concerns and interests raised about the country’s privatisation programme.