By Ndubuisi Francis
The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh, has declared that the federal government is concerned about the protracted legal tussle surrounding the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot-Abasi Akwa Ibom State and has placed the issue on the front burner.
The disclosure came even as the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, expressed support for the privatisation agency in its reform and privatisation mandate, urging Nigerians to extend similar support to help it exercise its mandate.
Speaking when he led the management team of the BPE on a courtesy visit to the governor as part of the activities for the Bureau’s 2020 management staff retreat in the state, Okoh told the governor who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Moses Ekpo, that the federal government was concerned about the lingering legal tussle surrounding ALSCON and had placed it on the front burner.
According to a statement issued by the BPE’s Head, Public Communications, Amina Tukur Othman, the Bureau’s chief executive pointed out that if ALSCON was functioning, it would have provided about 8,500 direct jobs and 35,000 indirect jobs to Nigerians which Akwa-Ibom State would have been the greatest beneficiary.
Okoh commended the state’s trail-blazing efforts in Nigeria, the West-African Sub-region and indeed, the world for floating an airline which he noted, meets international standards.
He informed the governor that since the over 30 years of the Bureau’s existence, it had reformed over 230 previous public enterprises (PEs) in the banking sector, oil and gas, telecoms, pension and debts’ managements, among others.
On the power sector which is the biggest reform exercise executed by the Bureau, he said if the privatization was not carried out in 2013, the sector would have collapsed by now, adding that the federal government was addressing the hiccups being experienced in the sector.
Responding, Emmanuel expressed satisfaction with the efforts being put in place by the federal government through the BPE to resolve the lingering legal tussle of the aluminum smelter company at Ikot-Abasi which is in a moribund state.
He noted the stabilizing role of BPE in the nation’s economy, adding that the government is not usually a good manager of businesses but provides an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, hence the need to support the Bureau to carry out its assignment.
The governor said the floating of an airline — Ibom Air — by his government was part of his administration’s efforts to industrialise the state and that soon, the airline would be floated on the capital market for Nigerians to take up shares with indigenes of the state given preference.
He added that the state would leverage on the expertise of BPE towards the industrialization policy of his administration and called for greater synergy between the Bureau and the state.