The House of Representatives on Tuesday opposed moves by the Federal Executive Council to concede the Lagos-Kano and the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail lines to General Electric.
The Lagos-Kano line is popularly known as the Western line, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line is better known as the Eastern line.
In plenary on Tuesday, lawmakers accused the Executive of discussing with GE, a United States firm, to take over the lines, without involving the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
They also noted that privatisation regulations were not being complied with in the talks, adding that they sensed a plot to hand over the rail lines to powerful interests.
The House directed its Committee on Privatisation to investigate the development, which it said violated the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, 1999.
A motion on the subject was moved by Mr. Chukwuemeka Ujam.
Contributing to the debate on the motion, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Yerima Ahmed, noted that by engaging GE, the FEC had assumed the duties of the BPE and the National Council on Privatisation.
He said, “Section 11 (j) (of the BPE Act) outlines the procedures for privatisation; there are four sections to be followed by the BPE and the agency is not being carried along.
“The NCP has not been inaugurated; and in its absence, the BPE is the secretariat for any privatisation.”
Another member, Mr. Sani Zorro, alleged that certain private interests were plotting to appropriate the rail lines. He, however, did not mention names.
“They have illegally launched an attempt to take over our refineries; that was resisted. They are now making attempts to take over our remaining public assets. We call them parasites, because they have the option of starting same businesses from the scratch,” Zorro added.
The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Relations, Ms Nnena Ukeje, shared Zorro’s view.
She said she could not understand how the concession would be legal when the National Economic Stimulus Bill had yet to become law.
Ukeje stated, “While the approval of the concession to GE is itself a good thing, we cannot sacrifice our laws and our processes on the altar of expediency.
“The President said he would bring a stimulus bill, which seeks to set aside our structures, but it has not been brought before the parliament.”