BusinessInvestmentNewsNigeriaTop News

Outrage over details of NITEL/MTel sale




By Olanrewaju Oyedeji


A storm is brewing at the moment with analysts expressing outrage over the last-minute sale of NITEL/MTel by the Jonathan administration to the hastily put together NATCOM consortium led by the Chairman of Skye Bank Plc, the Kogi-born Chief Olatunde Ayeni. They have therefore welcomed the probe of the transaction that was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

Pitching the sale figure of $252m (Two hundred and fifty two million dollars only) against the $400m (four hundred million dollars) paid in 2007 by the GSM-only operator, Etisalat, the analysts are arguing that given the sheer range of assets and attachments included in the NITEL/MTel package, the NITEL/Mtel sale does have all the trappings of a classical ‘sweetheart’ transaction.

It will be recalled that the Etisalat acquisition had granted it a Unified Access License that related only to a mobile license and spectrum in the GSM 1800 and 900 MHz bands. This is more or less like a basic permit fee paid to be able to operate in Nigeria.

On the contrary, the 2014 sale of NITEL, and its subsidiary MTEL to the NATCOM Consortium came with the very plum 0804 GSM license, over 500 new sites built by MTEL, sundry GSM equipment deployed to about 150 NITEL sites with towers, MTEL customer offices, all NITEL sites nationwide, all NITEL properties nationwide, the extensive NITEL optic fibre cable network (both digital and analogue) and the submarine cable that links Nigeria across the Atlantic to the outside world popularly called SAT-3.

All of these are $148m less than the cost of just the license Etisalat paid to NCC before they became operational.

Equally distressing the commentators say is the fact that, despite the sale, the Federal Government of Nigeria is yet saddled with the costs of the existing liabilities of NITEL/MTEL which had been currently estimated at a princely sum of about N300bn.

There are also concerns over the transparency of the pre-qualification/bidding components of the sale, with some industry watchers signaling that it was not very open. They also doubt the technical and financial capability of the NATCOM consortium to turn around the company for the better, given these posers as well as the fact that nothing significant has really been heard from the consortium since the acquisition.

‘Nigerians sharply divided over anti-corruption war’

Previous article

Aregbesola’s fading glory

Next article

You may also like


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Business