By Charly Agwam – Bauchi
The Bauchi State government has dismissed claims by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that it is illegal for government to sell of/privatize moribund public assets in the State.
The APC had criticised the lease and sale of six state-owned companies, which they alleged were sold to cronies, family and friends of Governor Bala Mohammed.
However, the government through the Secretary to the State Government, Kashim Mohammed who spoke to reporters on Saturday, said that the privatization of the assets followed due process.
He said that the process leading to the privatization of public assets followed due process, noting that the Bauchi State government, during the administration of Ahmed Mu’azu signed the enabling law for privatization.
“Government has no business in running businesses. It is well known that because of bureaucracy and lack of access to funding, government can not run businesses successfully like the private sector.
“The companies that were privatized were already in a state of comatose and were generating nothing for the State. What the government has done is to bring private investors to revive these companies so that they will become productive again and create employment opportunities for our people.
“The political jobbers in APC are not sincere because they know that those companies are dead. They are only out to deceive gullible people. If privatization was so bad, why did APC at the Federal level commercialize NNPC?” he queried.
The government had announced the lease of Zaranda Hotel and Wikki Hotel at the sum of N1.2 billion naira and N200 million respectively for a period of 25 years.
It sold off Bauchi Fertilizer and Blending Company at N400 million, Bauchi Meat Factory at N301 million, Bauchi Furniture Company at N150 million and Galambi Cattle N150 million.
The Secretary to the State Government, Barrister, explained that privatising the six dying entities was in the best interest of the people adding that more would be privatised.
“Yankari is definitely one of the areas of concern,” the SSG said about a tourist location in Bauchi.
“We are keen about Yankari because Bauchi State is supposed to be a pearl of Tourism and we want to maximise our capacity. What happened is that there was a Bauchi State Tourism Board which is a board under the Bauchi Ministry of Tourism.
“If you want to bring in private sector people to come and manage any entity they will want to deal with a legal entity, they would not want to deal with a Board. We have had meetings with a lot of people coming in and we had to establish legal regime.
“We did exact laws. We took it to the House of Assembly, they passed it. The Bauchi Tourism Board Law is one of the laws the governor açcented three weeks ago. Now that the law has been accented to, we are talking with people who are interested in coming to help us develop our tourism potentials.”
Recall that while announcing the lease and sale of the ailing entities last week, the Deputy Governor, Senator Baba Tela, who is the Chairman, Bureau for Privatisation and Economic Reforms, had maintained that privatisation was in the best interest of the people of the state.
Tela had revealed that more government enterprises would be put up for sale to improve their management and generate revenue for the state.