THE Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta, has pledged the Commission’s desire to collaborate with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to protect privatised enterprises in the country from asset-stripping by the new owners.
Speaking against the backdrop of reported cases of asset-stripping by owners of privatised enterprises, the ICPC boss commended the initiative by the BPE to partner with the Commission, assured that apart from getting involved as observers in the transaction processes of the Bureau,”ICPC will also collaborate in its post-privatisation activities since some of the investors after takeover often engage in assets- stripping thus, negating the essence of privatisation”.
Nta who made this known when the management of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) led by its Acting Director General, Dr. Vincent Onome Akpotaire paid a courtesy visit to the Commission said ICPC was interested in strengthening public institutions to ensure that public funds do not enrich individuals.
The Chairman urged the BPE to constantly monitor privatised enterprises to achieve the objectives of programme for the benefit of the citizenry. He expressed optimism that the synergy which the Bureau seeks with the Commission would bring about the desired results especially in the areas of investigation and intelligence gathering.
According to him, the Commission had the expertise to carry out due diligence and background checks on prospective investors which are major ingredients for foolproof transactions by the Bureau. He listed the gains of privatization which include; preventing the use of public wealth for private gains, a veritable tool for the fight against corruption and efficiency in service delivery.
He recalled that privatisation was actually mooted in the 1970s with the nationalisation policy in the days of Shell BP and Barclays Bank and that “privatisation was not initially an economic policy, but an attempt to assert Nigeria’s independence”.
Earlier, the Acting Director- General of the BPE, Dr. Vincent Onome Akpotaire had disclosed that the Bureau was poised to step up its privatisation processes in line with international best practices.
Akpotaire called for increased synergy between both agencies to ensure an all encompassing upgrade of the transaction process. According to him “ICPC is an integral partner in the Bureau’s transactions and its input will be beneficial to the upgrade initiative and the national economic objective in its entirety”.
He said transparency and integrity would remain key in the Bureau’s existing transaction processes and the proposed upgrade especially against the backdrop of “the growing trends of white collar crimes across the globe which makes it necessary to close the gaps and help the Commission to be familiar with our processes”.