There was palpable anxiety last week over the controversial sales of some choice properties
belonging to the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) as part of the port concessioning programme of the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Apart from concesioning terminal operations in the ports to the private sector, government had also sold NPA properties under what a source that is close to the House of Representatives committee on marine transport referred to as questionable circumstances.
On the strength of the numerous petitions which the committee reportedly received, it is set to commence another round of investigations into how the properties were sold; who bought them and where proceeds form the sales are being kept.
Shipping Position Weekly recalls that the House of Representatives committee on marine transport had last year went to London to ascertain the status of NPA properties in London and also received petitions from the senior staff association of NPA which called for the reversal of the sale of NPA hospital to Critical Rescue International; a company which belong to former head of interim national government, chief Ernest Sonekan.
Apart from the sale to the hospital which is popularly known as MC Queen hospital, the worker also kicked against the process which led to the sale of NPA School to the Catholic Church. Both properties have since been taken over by their new owners.
In addition to these, there were allegations from some employees of NPA that they were denied the right of first refusal in the sale of the houses which they were occupying.
The National Assembly source confirmed to our correspondent last week that the committee is interested in all allegations; “including, especially, the sale of the school and the hospital” The committee will be interested in the transparency or otherwise of the sales nad where the proceeds are, because we are told that no one knows where the money is”.
President, NPA senior staff association, Mr Umar Jimoh confirmed that its association sent a petition to the National Assembly last year, even as he reiterated the workers opposition to the sales of both the hospital and the school and alleged that NPA was short-changed in the sales.
Umar had also confirmed last year that the seven highbrow NPA properties in London have not been sold, a development which he attributed to the dogged opposition by the two house unions in NPA, namely, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and the SSA.
He had disclosed in a media chat that “on the London properties, we placed a caveat emptor on them and that stopped the buyers. It will amaze you to hear that it is the same Nigerian that wanted to corner it to themselves and we got the hint and eventually the London properties were not sold”, he assured.
But our source also confirmed that the law makers are interested in going to London to ascertain the current status of the controversial properties.