BPE in the Dock

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Benjamin Dikki, DG, BPE

DISENGAGED staff and pensioners of the defunct Nigerian Coal Corporation, NCC, have dragged the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, National Council on Privatisation, NCP, and Nigerian Coal Corporation, before an Industrial Court sitting in Enugu, over an alleged breach in the implementation of the 2003 monetisation policy of the federal government by the respondents.

The retirees, in complaint No: NICN/EN/07/2014, filed through O.A.U. Onyema, its legal counsel, noted that it was wrong for the BPE to sell their residential quarters to other people against the federal government’s policy on sales of government quarters, which stipulated that a genuine worker and occupier should have the right of first refusal. According to them, the non-offer of the third defendant’s houses to the disengaged staff and retirees of the third defendant at monetised prices up till this moment as was earlier directed by the defendants in the year 2007 and subsequently in 2009, is a perversion of justice.

The retirees claimed among other things “a declaration that the claimants are entitled to the conveyance of title ownership of residential quarters which they legitimately occupy in accordance with the monetisation policy and privatisation of labour policy with regards to disposal of government residential quarters.

“A declaration that continuous carving-out and delineating of some portions of the NCC properties and disposing same to the public, without concurrently allocating the residential quarters to the claimants (disengaged staff and retirees) who presently occupy them for them to pay and own in line with the monetisation, commercialisation and privatisation policy, amounts to double standard and portends an action in bad faith.

They also prayed the court to declare that any direct or indirect action, occasioned to encourage displacement of any of the claimants from his or her residential quarters, and renting or allocating same to the public, as to occasion denying him or her the benefit of the monetisation policy is illegal and of no effect.

“An order of this honourable court directing the defendants to restore the accommodation of any claimant ejected forcefully, while he/she was awaiting severance benefit, gratuity etc; and monetise same to him/her. An order of the court directing the defendant to forthwith, delineate the residential quarters as they are, survey, allocate to the claimants and perfect their title documents in line with the monetisation policy at government rate, as earlier formulated by the defendants.

“A perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, it’s agents, privies or by whatsoever or whomsoever from further incursions into, or sales of the residential properties occupied by the claimants to anybody, except to one of the claimants residing therein.” They also demanded a claim of N4 million for special and general damages against the BPE being the cost of litigation and other administrative appurtenances.

Successful Capitalisation of Seplat

THE successful listing of Seplat Petroleum Development Company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, has boosted the market capitalisation of the listed equities by $1.9 billion. Oscar Onyema, chief executive officer, NSE, made this known in Lagos on Monday, April 14, during the official listing of the company on the NSE and the presentation of the facts behind the listing.

Onyema
Onyema

Seplat Petroleum was listed on the Exchange after what Onyema described as a very successful IPO to raise $500 million. However, Seplat Petroleum opted to break the pattern by opting for dual listing on the NSE and the London Stock Exchange. Onyema explained that in going for the dual listing, the company had made Nigeria its primary jurisdiction, adding that the action had lifted the market capitalisation by $1.9 billion.

During Monday’s programme, Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, commended the NSE and other capital market stakeholders on the successful listing of Seplat Petroleum. Similarly, Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, also praised all the parties that were involved in the process that ended with the listing, saying, “We all must celebrate because of what has happened.”

Both ministers spoke during a visit to the Exchange to witness the conclusion of the process, which saw Seplat Petroleum emerge as the first company operating in the upstream sector of the country’s oil and gas industry to be listed on the bourse.

Alison-Madueke described the development as a major milestone in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. According to her, the decision of the firm, which produces 60,00 barrels of crude oil  per day, to maintain Nigeria as its primary jurisdiction through the listing is significant. She explained that it was reflective of the fact that Nigerian oil and gas firms had the ability to compete globally, because of the support of the Federal Government.

“It is clear that this is not only the first listing by IPO in years, but a bold testament of the commitment of this administration to the development of the oil and gas sector. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan will support all Nigerians who have the wherewithal to come into the oil and gas industry to stand tall,” she said.

Unnecessary Debate Over Cement Standardisation

THE Nigerian Block Makers’ Association has attributed the stiff resistance to cement standardisation in the country to greed and unbridled profit making at the expense of quality. Rasheed Adebowale, national president, Nigerian Block Makers Association, who made the statement at a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, on Monday April 14, warned that the insistence by some manufacturers on producing lower grades of the product was driven by their desire to maximise profit at the expense of the lives of Nigerians.

Dangote
Dangote

While absolving the block moulders of culpability for building collapse in the country, he urged all cement manufacturers to upgrade the quality of their products from the lower 32.5 grade to 42.5 in the interest of safety of human lives. Adebowale, who was a member of the technical committee set up by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, to review cement standards in the country, urged the government and other stakeholders to move beyond rhetoric and unnecessary politicking by coming out with a definitive standard for the product in the country.

“The 42.5 cement grade has long been the accepted cement grade in the country, but in the last 10 years, the standard seems to have dropped to 32.5 grade and incidentally, some of the worst cases of building collapse in the country have happened in the last decade, therefore underscoring the importance of re-establishing 42.5 as the minimum acceptable standard of cement in the country,” he said.

Also speaking at the forum, Okunola Abegunde, Lagos State chairman of the association, loathed the idea of placing the responsibility of failed structures on block moulders. He said a lot of technicalities were involved in the construction of buildings, and in order to avoid the incidence of collapse, he urged the regulators to manage the quality of inputs from manufacturers all the way to the builders at construction sites.

Abegunde noted that the good place to start the prevention of building collapse in the country was for the government to officially recognise the 42.5 cement grade as the acceptable standard in the country. In his presentation, Devakumar Edwin, group managing director, Dangote Cement, expressed regrets over the massive misinformation of the public and wondered why some manufacturers would intentionally discredit the higher cement grade just for the purpose of profit maximisation.

Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu

— Apr. 28, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

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