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Murray-Bruce calls for privatization of national parks


Chairman of the senate committee on Privatisation & Commercialisation, Mr. Ben Murray Bruce has called for the outright privatization of the National Parks, instead of commercialisation as was being canvassed, saying that commercialisation of the National Parks would not yield the desired results as it has been proven that that government could not successfully run any business.

At an interactive session at the National Assembly on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 with the Management team of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), led by its Director-General, Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, Murray Bruce applauded the Bureau for the feats so far achieved and pledged the Committee’s support in the discharge of the Bureau’s mandate.

According to him, “I am fully in favour of the privatisation programme, but let us get the right people and the right investors with the requisite technical expertise to take over government assets. The Committee is willing to work with the BPE.”

He decried the decay in all the eight National Parks across the country and noted that it was because of the state of the parks that many Nigerian children have never seen a live Buffalo or Elephant in “our Parks, whereas National Parks are money spinners in other countries in the tourism value chain”.

Mr. Bruce said the Committee had the responsibility to assist the Bureau to deliver on its mandate to move the nation forward and pledged the Committee’s commitment at ensuring that the value of privatization goes to the Nigerian citizens.

While acknowledging the critical role the Bureau would play in the policy direction of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, he said he had no iota of doubt that the Bureau would not fail Nigerians given its track record of performance.

The Chairman said the mandate of the Committee “is to look at the privatized entities, their operations and current state of affairs as it affects their financial and corporate status. We shall look at these companies to see if they are delivering the goods in terms of efficiency, productivity, profitability, poverty reduction and all the supposed benefits that feature prominently in privatization advocacy, including corporate governance”.

To achieve the mandate, he said the Committee had drawn up a work-plan which includes interactive sessions with the BPE, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) and the power and maritime sectors as well as the petrochemicals sector.

He promised that the Committee would give attention to the Bills before the National assembly and ensure their early passage that would impact positively on the citizenry.

Earlier, the Director-General of the BPE, Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki had informed the committee members of the mandate of the Bureau and enumerated the reforms and other activities carried out by the Bureau since inception.

Mr. Dikki stated that the power sector privatisation was already yielding positive results, adding that generation has moved from 2000 megawatts to over 4500 megawatts consistently and Discos have also increased their capacity to uptake power.

He also noted that Transcorp in Ughelli has moved generation from 150 megawatts at takeover to over 600 megawatts. He recalled the positive developments in the telecommunications sector which he said at the inception of the reforms, the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Cards were sold for N50, 000 a piece.” But with investment, competition and increasing number of lines, the cost of SIM Cards have crashed to zero. Nigerians would reap the benefit of power sector reform and privatization as investments are made and quantum of power supply increased. Tarrifs will definitely crash. Nigerians should be patient”, he said.

According to him, “it takes time to deploy the necessary technology and refurbish the turbines and dilapidated cables”, adding that investments are being made in the sector.