Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the recent sale of the assets of defunct incumbent fixed line operator Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) to NATCOM Consortium, writes local newspaper This Day. NATCOM was announced as the preferred buyer of NITEL and its mobile arm M-Tel in December 2014 with a bid of USD252.25 million, and the transaction was concluded in April 2015. Permanent secretary Tunji Olaopa told journalists that President Buhari has asked for further details into how NITEL’s guided liquidation process was conducted under the government of his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan. He added that the probe was not an indication that he was opposed to the sale, but to ensure there were no illicit practices in the process.
NATCOM is a special purpose entity set up for the acquisition, comprising a consortium of companies which includes NATSPACE Telecommunication Investment, Hong Kong-based telco PCCW Global, Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyl Estate Development & Services, Sahara Energy Resources, Legal Resources Alliance & Co and technical partner LM Ericsson Nigeria. It is required to roll out telecoms services in Nigeria within the next three years. The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) approved the ‘guided liquidation’ of NITEL and M-Tel in February 2012 in light of previous failed privatisation attempts and liabilities due to creditors.