Pentascope/NITEL Scam: Is El-Rufai an accidental public fraud?

Posted by Junaid Abubakar | 5 April 2013 | 8,891 times

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For quite a while former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has strut the social media with the gait of an anti-corruption crusader. He has consistently thrown barbs at sundry personalities, including President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. El-Rufai consistently branded Atiku as the man who arm-twisted him while he (El-Rufai) held forte at the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE).

But recent revelations have erased any doubt that El-Rufai had been neck-deep in graft for ages. The former BPE boss who currently has some graft cases hanging on his head, has been fingered several times in the Abuja land grab scandal.

El-Rufai was on April 7,  2011, arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes  Commission (EFCC) alongside former Director-General of the Abuja Geographic  Information Systems (AGIS), Altine Jubril, and former General Manager, AGIS,  Ismaila Iro, on eight-count charges of alleged conspiracy, conferring corrupt  advantages and seeking gratification as public officials during their public service in 2007

It is also no news that as minister of the FCT El-Rufai paid two of his aides over N1 million a month each and justified it in his infamous book, Accidental Public Servant. They were remunerated in dollars.

The latest is that it has been revealed how his activities at the BPE led to the death of Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), which will make the toga of ‘Accidental Public Fraud’ appropriate for El-Rufai.

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-Rufai-led BPE. He described the Pentascope management brought in by El-Rufai 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.

In a statement signed and issued by the group of retirees in Abuja Wednesday, April 3, they disagreed with the claim in a widely-circulated statement by El-Rufai that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar approved the appointment of Pentascope, the failed management consultant hired to manage NITEL in 2003.

This puts a question mark on the claim by the former minister that Atiku didn’t give him a free hand as BPE boss. Few weeks after he alleged that the former Vice President was all over him, Atiku made public El-Rufai’s statement at a Public Hearing at the National Assembly and in an interview with The Guardian newspaper where he said unequivocally said he was unhindered at BPE.

According to the retirees, “The issue is who issued or originated the memorandum to the National Council on Privatization (NCP)? How did El-Rufai, as DG, BPE, pick Pentascope to manage NITEL?” The retirees accused El-Rufai of misleading, not only the NCP, but the entire Federal Government by presenting Pentascope as a capable management company that could turn around NITEL.

El-Rufai allegedly broke and twisted all the rules to make Pentascope win. Penstascope was one and the same with El-Rufai. The face of Pentascope was represented by El-Rufai’s two closest friends, Messrs 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.

According to the MTEL/NITEL retirees, the Pentascope 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 above revelations are shocking to some but the schooled and those who have followed Nasir from his school days are not amazed. It is very important for Nigerians to be wary of this later-day ‘activist’ El-Rufai who wants us to believe that Nigeria is riddled with corruption and almost hinting that this administration should be toppled. He has attacked every policy of this administration and portrayed himself like a puritan. But like Atiku said recently, “Nasir El-Rufai is a danger to himself.”

*Dr. Abubakar writes from Abuja. •Photo shows el-Rufai.


Source: News Express

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