Months after oil sector magnate, Mr Femi Otedola collected the US$20 Million he paid for the national carrier; Nigeria Unity Line (NUL), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) says that it had commenced search for a new buyer for ill-fated shipping line.
Although Shipping Position Weekly could not confirm how far the search has gone or if anyone had already indicated interests in acquiring the national carrier, it was confirmed that searchlight is already beamed in the direction of key players in the nation’s maritime sector.
Otedola’s shipping company which he used to bid for NUL in 2005 was paid US$20Million mid last year; after which the BPE beat a retreat on new plans to resell the company until last week when news filtered out that the bureau which supervises sales of all government’s interests was set to call for bids.
Seaforce won the bid for NUL on December 1, 2005, paid the US$20Million in February, 2006, but failed to take advantage of the company as a national carrier until September, 2007, by which time, a new President had been sworn in. Spokesman for BPE, Mr Chigbo Anichebe confirmed the development to our correspondent, but refused to give details of the unfolding deal.
According to him, the BPE was not properly informed about the status of NUL before its sale. “We thought it was a solid company, but we found out that what attracted Seaforce was the promise of using the status of the company as national carrier to lift crude oil” , he disclosed.
Industry sources told our correspondent last week in Lagos that it would be difficult for BPE to get a buyer for NUL within the Nigerian maritime sector, because according to them, the company is worth nothing, except on paper.
“The only ship, MV Abuja which NUL would have had was sold in 2002 under very controversial circumstances and one wonders why the government decided to sell the certificate of NUL which is a government-owned company and which is national carrier to an individual”, a source said.
Our sources confirmed last week that Otedola dumped NUL following the inability of Seaforce to use the acquisition of NUL to enter into the big league of crude oil carriers contrary to an agreement that was said to have been reached with the BPE.
It was learnt that both Seaforce and BPE had reached an agreement based on alleged directives form the presidency that Seaforce would use the NUL status as a national carrier to lift 40 per cent of the nation’s crude oil.