How el-Rufa’i killed NITEL

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Former chief executives, union and group of retirees from the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) yesterday rose stoutly against an attempt by former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i to reject the blame for the destruction of the telecommunications monopoly, urging the Federal Government to hold the former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) solely responsible for this monumental national loss.

One of the former managing directors of MTEL, the GSM arm of NITEL, Mr. Kunle Bello, who voluntarily resigned so he could avoid the touted new managers, Pentascope, said he foresaw the collapse of NITEL/MTEL due to insincere and inconsistent implementation of policies by the El-Rufa’i-led BPE. He described the Pentascope management brought in by El-Rufa’i as an “irredeemable misfortune” upon the telecommunications industry and an unmitigated disaster on NITEL/MTEL staff, “who have been dying one after another” due to non-payment of their pensions.

Bello, an ITU telecommunications engineer, said Pentascope allegedly squandered more than N100 billion of NITEL’s hard-earned income, besides the loss of revenue without adding a single telephone line. He challenged the judicial and executive arms of government to rise to the occasion to absolve themselves of blame by going after the perpetrators of the fraud. In a statement signed and issued by the group of retirees in Abuja yesterday, they disagreed with the claim in a widely-circulated statement by El-Rufa’i that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar approved the appointment of Pentascope, the failed management consultant hired to manage NITEL in 2003.

The former workers who said they held El-Rufa’i responsible not only for the collapse of NITEL, but also the destruction of their careers, said the issue at stake is beyond the debate of who signed and who did not sign. “The issue is who issued or originated the memorandum to the National Council on Privatization (NCP)? How did El-Rufa’i, as DG, BPE, pick Pentascope to manage NITEL?” The retirees accused El-Rufa’i of misleading, not only the NCP, but the entire Federal Government by presenting Pentascope as a capable management company that could turn around NITEL.

One of such former employees, Michael Awos, who put in 30 years as a technical staff beginning with the defunct P & T, said that Pentascope was brought purposely to “siphon money and kill this organisation (NITEL) they had spent all their lives to build. “He allegedly broke and twisted all the rules to make Pentascope win. Penstascope was one and the same with El-Rufa’i. The face of Pentascope was represented by El-Rufai’s two closest friends Mr. Hassan Musa Usman and Tijjani Abdullahi. Pentascope in Holland was a one-man office. It had a single room as office. Its rolling mast was on top of a church building. The retirees also said that the true story of the destruction of their national carrier was revealed in two reports by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Quoting from the report, the retirees said that “rather than using Atiku as scape goat for the collapse of NITEL to serve his hidden agenda, the concerned group of former NITEL workers advised El-Rufa’i to be honourable enough to accept the responsibility for railroading and blackmailing the former NITEL board and the privatization council into approving a contract that had short-changed Nigerians and children yet unborn. According to these former NITEL workers who described themselves as the “human debris of the destruction wrought on NITEL by El-Rufai’s selfish and callous agenda to short-change Nigerians,” the former BPE DG should apologize to Nigerians for his misdeeds.

They recalled that in May 2003, the House of Representatives exposed the underbelly of El-Rufai’s alleged hypocrisy to mislead government and Nigerians about the Pentascope management contract. The committee they said, found that the evaluation of the bids was “suspect” and that Pentascope lied on its true legal status and origin, which the group said El-Rufa’i allegedly covered up. The former NITEL workers said the House found that Pentascope was supposedly registered on January 1, 2002, which was a public holiday in European countries. Despite the alleged inaccuracies and lies by Pentascope, the group accused El-Rufa’i of imposing the Dutch company on a hostile NITEL board, its workers and Nigerians.

According to the group, the Pentascope’s alleged misadventure led to NITEL’s profits nose-diving from N15 billion in 2002 and turned it into a loss of N19 billion in 2003. The group, quoting the House Communications Committee report, also said that NITEL’s turnover dropped from N53 billion to N41 billion. Despite the dramatic drop in turnover under Pentascope management, the group alleged that direct and overhead costs increased from N21.3 billion to N26.3 billion and from N19.4 billion to N30 billion. The NITEL former staff advised El-Rufa’i to focus on these issues rather than using others as a scapegoat, saying that it is not uncommon for leaders to be misled by clever liars into signing something that turned out to be fraudulently arranged to produce a desired outcome.

The retired NITEL workers wondered why El-Rufa’i thinks the House, the former NITEL board and others that exposed the fraudulent process of handing over NITEL to Pentascope were wrong but he was right. Comrade Elias Kazzah, National Adviser of the Senoir Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTC) and President of NITEL unit of the association, also called on El-Rufa’I to shut up on account of his alleged mismanagement of the Pentascope transaction that led to the demise of the company. He said that NITEL was so commercially viable that it contributed to NIPOST and provided support to the ECOMOG troops in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

He recalled that the BPE under El-Rufa’i rebuffed other options put on the table for revamping NITEL even though they had failed at six previous attempts at addressing the NITEL’s imbroglio. Comrade Kazzah regretted El-Rufa’i’s handling of the controversial management contract, insisting that the “coming of  Pentascope was through the backdoor.”

According to him, to demonstrate its reservation against the deal, NITEL workers blocked the gates of Transcorp Hilton venue of the signing of the management contract between BPE and Pentascope, but claimed that El-Rufa’i surreptitiously smuggled the parties to the deal through the back. He noted that Pentascope came on board with the preconceived agenda to have a run on NITEL’s the huge cash, both local and foreign currencies at that time and to disorganise and frustrate the network. Meanwhile, a former Managing Director of NITEL, Prof. Buba Bajoga, who agreed to speak on record, decried the destruction of NITEL as “very painful.”

He said by the time he left the organization as its head in 2000, NITEL was a very viable commercial organization. “We approved the payment of dividends to government and I remember that I left N15 billion and U.S. Dollar 200 million in the coffers of the organization,” he said. Bajoga said NITEL made more profit than most banks. “We paid all our bills and were financing all our projects,” he added.

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20 Comments

  1. Dele Odugbemi on

    Why then El-Rufai makes noise all over the place as a saint while in office when he should be in jail by now?

  2. El-Rufa’i is wicked, he retired many Southerns from FCDA and stole lands from people.

    He is a thief and a liar

  3. kunle Bello & his fellow retiree shuld shut up, do they still want Nigera to remain in darkness? have u forgoten digital & analog? u tap peoples line any how, only millionar have access to telephone, people wuld besiege Nitel lik a congregation in the name of making call,all this nitel shuld bury their head in shame. very son PHCN will start crying their own.

    • I disagree entirely with you. I never worked in NITEL nor had a relation there but I took a lot of interest in the goings on, on the issue of privatization. The account of the former NITEL workers is quite correct and perfect. I also recalled that in the process of privatization onf NITEL top men like Mr Alonge of of either First Bank or Union Bank got their fingers burnt and career destroyed at the instruction of El’ Rufai. I also recall that some years later, at an interview the issue of destruction of NITEL was posed to EL; Rufai and he boasted that if he had another opportunity, he will do it again and that he had no apologies to any one. In another occasion on a television interview El Rufai was justifying his evil did by claiming that NITEL was working at about 40% capacity.The same thing he did to NITEL he also did to NICON Insurance,. These were viable companies making profits and employing thousands of Nigerians but as a result of greed EL Rufai and co decided to destroy them. Today, where is NITEL and where is NICON Insurance Shame to Obasanjo and El’ Rufai and they will never go unpunished..

    • Its unfortunate that some idiots from AREWA cannot see anything bad in the evil that their people has done and is still doing to this country. I wonder why people like El-rufai should still be walking freely in this country after all the atrocities that he committed. It beats my imagination that a man who ran away when Yaradua was the president because of corruption and fear of being arrested, came back immediatly he died, only to start painting everybody black. I think GEJ is an accomplice otherwise he should have arrested him

    • Dey, God bless you, jare. These ex-NITEL guys are now posturing holier-than-thou. I am not an El- Rufai fan, he surely has his own shortcomings. But all of us cannot forget the monster NITEL was, you get yourself a landline in those days for 125,000 to 150,000 Naira and you settle down to host call charges diverted into your account. If you complain, the first thing you were told was to pay first and get ‘justice’ later, which almost never came. Crooked callers used to stand by for NITEL staff to divert overseas bound call charges into unlucky subscriber line and then make calls almost for free. Sabotage of NITEL by NITEL people was so prevalent in those days, it was common knowledge.
      Nitel staff, management and supervising ministry burnt their candles from both ends. Anybody who can run his employing organisation into the ground should expect no pension.
      By the way, those who were worth their salt would have moved on to greener pastures – telecoms industry today is worth a 100 times more than NITEL of those days.
      The difference is clear. As a well paid engineer in those days, I couldn’t afford a line and the sure fraudulent loading of one’s account, yet today, the groundnut and orange hawkers gleefully use their Geezm daily unfailingly.

  4. Elrufai is a pint-sized thief, all he knows is to make noise in the internet and claim a “holier than thou” attitude all the time.
    He killed nitel and nicon insurance

  5. No matter what nitel employees will do or say to el-rufai we still love and cherish the way he educate and highlights on all the evil deed of this bad govt of rats.Well done El-rufai we hold ur back .

  6. El-Rufai knows more than everybody. He is holier than all but I’ve always known that midget to be satanic; a liar, thief & killer. People died because of his wickedness. @Dey you don’t seem to read & understand anything. Everybody needs the faculty & soundness of mind to be able make incisive deduction(s) in order not to post any garbage. The pertinent question here is whether El-Rufai, then as DG of BPE, knowingly, willingly, implicitly & complicitly negated due process(es) just to favour Pentascope or other companies he had/has interest in? Plz leave the messengers(ex-Nitel staff) but take the message. In the 90ties I paid about N150k to get a digital telephone line(497) from the Ikeja exchange & it took 3months plus to work due staff corruption. Nitel staff were then demi-gods but that is not the topic/issue here. The essence of privatization is to make things better & bring about healthy competition. El-Rufai’s firm was a major Nitel contractor then. He was one of those who killed Nitel which would have been better today than it was then. He did that just to cover up his dirty deals. The pint-sized crook ought to have returned all he stole & be thrown into jail to rot therein.

    • I REMEMBER WE HAD TO COUGH OUT N150K FOR PAYMENT FOR A DIGITAL LINE IN BENIN CITY THAT WAS EQUILVALENT TO A PEUGEOT 505 EVOLUTION IN 1990 THEN, NA WAH OOH.

  7. Holy Malam needs to be crucified. I said it long time ago that any man that talks so much like market women need to be examined, I made this statement against El Rufai as at the time he was challenging Atiku Abubarka and OBJ last two months on corruption . So El Rufai will transfer all his criminality to the new APC party? this is incredible. Do you all remember when I made it clear that El Rufai is deeply rooted in corruption , citing his ignorable attitude towards the 2 million naira monthly remuration he due paid out to some Abuja prostitutes. Everyone could see how he made such illegal finances that warranted him to lavish large volume of amount on society ladies. Another shameless human that talks excessively like him is Okorocha Rochas, he has been awarding contracts with mere mouthing to his wife and associates without due process but some gullible Imolites thought that the guy is on the rightful tracks. I wonder what the nation will look like when these two herbitual and deceitful criminals will interwove at a common front called APC, God please save your people.

  8. Anthony I Efobi on

    Like El-Rufai like Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. These desperate guys from North must run this country down with their low management skills, corrupt mind and excessive greed.

  9. I was among those who cried aloud that the privatization policy of Obasanjo was ill-timed and that many national institutions were being ruined or handed over to a few at the expense of many .Nitel is a typical example of a failed contract between Nigerians and Nigeria.It is one among many atrocities against the defend less poor.People Like El Rufai should commit suicide for the crime he committed against his fellow brother/ sisters in this country.

  10. hammerhouseofhorror on

    ATIKU WAS THE CHAIRMAN OF BPE. EL-RUFAI SAID ATIKU BROUGHT IN PENTSCOPE TO SCOOP ALL THE MONIES IN NITEL, NA TRUE. ATIKU LOVES MONEY, ATIKU IS A FORMER CUSTOMS OFFICER, CUSTOM OFFCERS ARE KNOWN “NIGERIA-CERTIFIED” ROGUES. EVERYTHING FALLS INTO PLACE.

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