The Federal House of Representatives on Tuesday agreed to initiate a forensic audit of the activities of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited from inception to date sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to investigate the alleged sleaze, misappropriation and non-profitability of the NigComSat Limited,’ sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; reported Tribune.
Hon Elumelu mentioned that the establishment of NigComSat was to develop the information and communications technology system in Nigeria, as well as to improve national security, broadcasting, internet access, e-governance, health and the educational sectors of the country. Unfortunately, it has failed to achieve its objectives. Incorporated in 2006 and wholly owned by the Federal Government, NigComSat’s scorecard remains unsatisfactory.
Hon. Elumelu noted:
- The House is aware that it costs the Nigerian Government the sum of USD 340 million of taxpayers money to build the NigComSat-l and a further N43.500 billion from the federal allocation as running cost and another USD 127 million as debt servicing to the Chinese Government, but there is little or nothing to show for these huge investments. The House is concerned that while the fixed-satellite service business has proven lucrative in so many countries with a worth estimate of the global space as high as N126 trillion and 75% of this coming from commercial revenues, NigComSat is yet to get a slice of the pie and has generated zero revenue.
- The House is disturbed that even though the company has not been able to make contributions to the nation’s revenue, it has been riddled with series of allegations ranging from contract scam to the tune of N8 billion to bribery of government agents and withholding of vital documents to ensure the cover-up of the massive irregularities against the management of the company.
- The House is also disturbed that at a time, a managing director of the company was alleged to have wrongfully declared her assets and signed off the company’s Direct-to-Home (DTH) facility to NIGUS International Investment Ltd (a company owned by the father in law of the Head of DTH) after she acquired shares in NIGUS through proxies.
- The House is worried by the allegations that the management of the company breached government policy on procurement by ensuring that procurement matters are handled strictly between the offices of the managing director and that of the legal adviser, which is a breach of the country’s financial regulations.
- The House is also worried that between September and December 2011, the Management of NIGCOMSAT paid Fasaha Intercontinental Insurance Brokers Ltd the sum of N5,893,920,000 for Insurance premium of the launch of NIGCOMSAT-1R Satellite which is a non-consultant job that requires the approval of the Federal Executive Council, such unguarded expenditures have made the company unable to meet the financial obligations owed to the nation and if left unchecked, will result in further loss of the nation’s scarce revenue.
To this end, the House mandated the Committees on Information Technology (ICT) and Finance to carry out a forensic audit of the activities of the NIGCOMSAT Limited from inception to date and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
Budget for NigcomSat between 2009 and 2019, was about ₦41.4 billion (approximately USD 200 million) with a 2020 budget of ₦3,473,046,717 (USD 9.54 million). On the other hand, Egypt’s NileSat, currently Africa’s largest satellite operator valued at over $586 million, used to be government-owned as well. But its fortunes improved after it went public. In 2018, Space in Africa noted, it made a revenue of up to $145 million. Telesat, which was previously owned by the Canadian Government, has a similar history. Following its privatisation in 2007, its worth has more than doubled from $2.8 billion to $7 billion and the company is currently the world’s fourth-largest FSS provider.
Space in Africa has projected while analysing the future of the Nigerian Space Agency and the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited that NigComSat might be sold by the government very soon.