……As Okowa Rejects NLC’s N2 Billion Bid, Throws Company’s 730 Workers Into Labour Market
…….70% Equity To ‘God Is Good Motors’, 30% To Delta State Government, Company Name To Change From ‘Delta Line’ After Five Years To Okowa’s Preferred Name
HardReporters can authoritatively report that Delta state governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa has finally sold Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) to one of his cronies, ‘GIG Transport Development Company Limited (God Is Good Motors)’ for N161 million bid with 70% equity to God Is ‘Good Motors’ and 30% equity to Delta state government. The governor’s action has thrown to the labour market over 730 workers of Delta Line company.
HardReporters reliably learnt that early this year, governor Okowa had conceived the plan to sell off the only state owned transport company, ‘Delta Line’ to one of his cronies, the owner of ‘God Is Good Motors company and directed the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Edevbie to advertise for tender bids, but this was said to have angered unions in the state who vowed to fight with the last drop of their blood to see that the governor does not have his way which they described as “Selfish and Wicked.”
BIDDING LACKS DUE PROCESS:
Narrating to HardReporters Editor, a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to governor Okowa who is not happy with the way and manner the governor sold the Delta Line company to God Is Good Motors, said the whole deal was fraudulently transacted in secrecy to the detriment of Deltans.
“The question now is that why didn’t the governor sold the company to a Deltan? rather he sold it to an Anambra man who hails from Nnewi. You see, during the Governor Okowa’s 2015 governorship campaigns, the owner of ‘God Is Good Motors’, gave Okowa some black Mercedes-Benz buses free of charge that were used for the period of the campaigns.
“And the agreement was that once Okowa emerged governor, a deal will be struck and the state owned transport company, ‘Delta Line’ will be sold to ‘God Is Good Motors’ as a way to reciprocate the kind gesture. The kite they are flying now as been the reason of selling the company is that, its no longer commercially viable. The whole deal was fraudulent.” the SSA said.
Sensing that HardReporters is about leaking details of the shady deal transaction between the governor and God Is Good Motors, following text messages this medium sent to Delta state inexperienced and incompetent commissioner for information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, on Wednesday night which he rebuffed, and hurriedly directed his Media Assistant, Mr. Sam Ijeh, to immediately issue a press statement laced with lies all through with the title “Govt Gives Reason For Selling Delta Line Equity Shares”
The statement which failed to disclosed the buyer of the company, the equity shares, among others, lied that government decision to sell part of its equity stake in Delta Transport Services Limited, was that the company failed to be commercially viable, adding that because of its nonviable nature, the state government was injecting capital into the company from time to time as a way of support because of its unique position as the only government-owned and branded transport company.
“The state government in the past invested heavily in the company through the provision of 160 brand new Toyota Hiace Buses, 76 brand new Toyota Corolla Cars and other incentives in cash or kind. Furthermore, from 2012 to April 2015, the state government released monthly palliatives to the company to mitigate the effects of fuel-price increase which occurred at that time.” the statement said.
Ukah also lied in the statement that “Unlike others who benefitted from the allocation of the government buses, Delta Line never remitted any revenue to the state government, instead the company was riddled with debts made up of salaries and wages of staff, allowances and claims of staff, contractors, and suppliers obligations.”, noting that the Workers Union interference in the affairs of management did not help matters.
“In a bid to sanitize the company, government sacked the General Manager and suspended some other principal officers and directed the Directorate of Transport to supervise and oversee the activities of the company, with an inherited six-month salary debt. To stem the tide of further deterioration, the government opted for sale of part of its equity stake and this was duly advertised in national dailies for expression of interest and respondents submitted their bids plus necessary documents in line with due process following which the successful bidder was considered.”
The statement further lied that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Delta State chapter did not indicate interest at the time of advertisement and neither did it provide details of how it would source funds for the purchase of the shares to be sold, noting that the entire process followed due process and a memo was forwarded to the State Executive Council accordingly.
ROLES OF OKOWA COMMISSIONERS:
Delta state Secretary of AUPCTRE, Comrade Emeni Fidel had insisted that Delta Line company has been paying monthly wage bill of N26 million with an average Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N42 million, as well as gradual loan repayment to Zenith and Wetland banks.
But the commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr. Kingsley Emu who was among those that supported the sale of Delta Line Company, had said that the company has no value to government.
“We don’t need to waste money to pamper government businesses. Government has no business doing any business. That is a statement of fact. Where all of these businesses work, we know. We have continually subsidized that company (Delta Line). That company owes in excess of N200 million in terms of debt. That company is not professionally run.
“Before the advent of the Caretaker Committee today, that company was unable to pay their bills, salaries and debt, and as I speak to you they are still unable to pay those debts. Its not true that they are paying Zenith Bank. Its not true. In any case, they are going through a due procurement process of publicising it to enable people bid. I will urge you as journalists to be patient and see the process through.
“The fear is job loss. There may not even be any job loss. For all you care there will be enhancement of value because most of the drivers have not been trained for a long time. If you look at transportation businesses, operational efficiency is the most challenging part of it. You must have a functional workshop with spare parts and drivers must go through preferential training regularly to understand what they are doing.”
In a corroborative statement, the state Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Vincent Uduaghan had earlier taken a swipe at the last administration of his elder brother, Emmanuel Uduaghan on the state of Delta Line when he stated that the past government purchased substandard buses which have no road worthiness, adding that many of the vehicles have gone beyond repairs.
Classified documents perused and others obtained by HardReporters revealed that, governor Okowa did not followed due process for the bidding and had before now made up his mind to sell off the company to his crony, God Is Good Motors (GIGM). Documents also revealed that the company was sold at N161 million, while the name would be changed after five years when he (Okowa) may have left office and convert same to his own preferred operational name.
In a letter from the Ministry of Justice with Ref No: DTMJ.1/7/1034/135, addressed to the Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Vincent Uduaghan, titled Re: Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) By Delta State Government, reads thus: The above subject refers.
“I am directed to request that you furnish this office within the next 24 hours with a list of all the claims, matters and proceedings to which Delta Line is a party to enable us concluded on the Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU), between the Delta State Government and GIG Transport Development Company Limited for the privatization process. Please treat as urgent. Nwanze, I.J (Mrs), Principal State Counsel on behalf of Attorney General and Commissioner For Justice.
Another letter with Ref No: DT/TRSD/211/2 from the office of the Commissioner For Transport titled Re: Partial Privatization Of Delta Line Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) By Delta State Government, addressed to the Senior Special Adviser to governor Okowa on Delta Line and signed by one Efenudu L. on behalf of the Commissioner, reads:
“I am directed to refer to the above subject matter and to forward herewith a letter from the Ministry of Justice requesting for the list of all claims, matters and proceedings to which Delta Line is a party.
In another letter with Ref No: DT/NLC/HE/055/VOL.10 by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), signed by the state Secretary, Comrade Innocent Ofuoneyeadi, titled “Re: Proposal To Acquire 60% Equity Of Delta Line Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) From Delta State Government, addressed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, through Commissioner For Finance, Mr. David Edevbie, chairman, Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line), reads thus:
“The state executive council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Delta state council, wish to draw your attention to the proposal made by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Delta State council on the Proposal To Acquire 60% Equity Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) From Delta State Government, and to further posit, that congress is interested, in the expression of interest to buy 60% equity investment stake in the Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) under the state Government partial privatization programme as proposed by AUPCTRE.
“Your Excellency, our resolve to go with this proposal stems from the conviction that the proposal is made in the best interest of the state and the entire workforce at Delta Line. We look forward to a novel partial privatization programme at Delta Line, in line with international best practices.”
Despite all these bare facts, the Delta state incompetent information commissioner, Mr. Ukah went ahead to dish out tissue of lies to Deltans and the general public even when it was a known fact that governor Okowa, the Economic Planning Commissioner, Mr. Kingsley Emu, an allied, and Commissioner For Finance, Mr. David Edevbie, chairman, Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line), frustrated and killed proposals put forward by AUPCTRE through NLC.
Countering, Ukah’s tissue of lies, a top NLC official as well as a senior staff of Delta Line company disclosed that in their bidding, they offered N2 billion while God Is Good Motors offered N80 million initially, but surprisedly theirs was rejected and the one of God Is Good Motors was accepted and later increased to N161 million with 30% equity to the state government and 70% equity to God Is Good Motors and after five years the name, Delta Line would be changed to a preferred operational name from Okowa.
“Delta Line Transport Services since on the December when the former General Manager was sacked because of financial mismanagement AUPCTRE from the 15th December, 2015–22nd December 2015, in conjunction with the Administrative Manager were able to pay salaries of workers, and since then the revenue of the companies earnings have been between N40–N45 million Nigeria, where the net profit the company was making is N15 million.
“Yet Governor Okowa was heart bent on selling the company. The Governor was wrongly informed that Delta Line is bankrupt and nothing is coming out of the organization and the governor accepted it because of his vested interest and concluded that the place is not viable and resorted to selling off the place, thus full or partial privatization. When AUPCTRE got to know of it, they approached the commissioner for transport about the news and he denied it.
“Two weeks later, AUPCTRE proposed three days peaceful protest and the government made a peaceful move to forestall peace and to avoid crisis. Meeting was scheduled between Labour and government in SSG’s Office. SSG promised that there was need for a committee to be set up and this he proposed to the governor which he gave approval. The Commissioner for Finance was made the chairman of the Committee Of Partial Privatization of Delta Line Transport.
“Other members are Commissioner of Transport, the PS Transport, Mike Okeme, SA, Labour, Senior Special Adviser on transport to the Governor and the State chairman and secretary of AUPCTRE were co-opted into the committee. Our first time in the meeting, the chairman of the committee said they don’t need Labour in the meeting and they left and were later recalled and only to see that the meeting was already over.
“The committee chairman briefed us about the meeting and told us that “God is good Motors” was here and we told him that we the workers want to buy and he acknowledged that the most successful privatization that has ever taken place in the history of privatization is the one done by the workers themselves. He asked the Labour Exco to go and apply and summit our bidding on or before the end of March, 2017 which we did.
“Around April our union leaders were invited to the committee sitting and where asked “do you have this money, the N2 billion”, the union leaders told them yes and up till now, the committee refused to extend invitation to Labour again. The committee proposed 60% equity to be sold to the private sector while 40% equity to be retained by the government. We Labour offered N2 billion while God is Good Motors offered N80 million and to our surprise, we discovered that God Is Good Motors has increased its offered to N161 million to secure the bid while Labour with its N2 billion offer was rejected.”
THE ANGER OF LABOUR:
The Committee which the Labour supposed to be part of, deliberately refused to carry them along and was not transparent to them. The general public is of the concern that government should not sell the company because the company is not only for profit but of “good will” of the State, “Delta Line”.
That the process for the sales was not followed and was never brought for a debate before the State House of Assembly and most painful is the fact that the state government has not been able to pay retirees in the core Ministries and Parastatals since 2013 and wondered how it will pay off 730 Delta Line workers.
The Union however vowed not to allow the governor have his way, describing Okowa’s action as “selfish and detrimental” which will throw the 730 workers of the company into the labour market.