SALE OF ‘DELTA LINE’ EQUITY BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT: OUR STANCE, BY APC

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The Delta State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) rejects the sale of 60 percent equity of
Delta Transport Services Limited (DELTA LINE) to GIG Transport Development Company Limited
(popularly known and operating in the name of God-Is- Good Motors) for a paltry sum of N161 million, and calls on the State government to immediately rescind the planned transfer of the control of the company to God-Is- Good Motors.
We strongly oppose this sale for many reasons but more importantly its lack of transparency. It is a sale that seems to have been organized, arranged and executed as an “exclusive deal” against the best interest of Deltans. We are also concerned that, under this deal, the name “Delta Line” can be changed just after five years. It means that God-Is- Good Motors can then rename the company after itself if it succeeds in buying off the remaining 40 percent equity for whatever amount. In the end, the people of Delta State will be the losers.
Our history has shown that PDP-led governments in Delta State have indeed demonstrated a penchant for stripping the State of its assets. After many years, we have become aware of the controversial sale of
“Econet Shares” under ex-Governor Ibori, and “Guinea House” in Lagos under ex-Governor Uduaghan.
Also, Asaba Textile Mills, Shares in Midwestern Oil & Gas were sold off. The question is when will such
frivolous sale of Delta State assets stop?
Delta Line is the only state-owned land transport company; and it is not just a brand for the state but a
famous heritage of the people. It does not only provide a service, but it is a “social contract” between the government and the people of the State which has been in existence for decades from the time of the defunct parent company, Midwest/Bendel Line. Therefore, the intrinsic value of this company is much more than the monetary digits that may have been concocted on paper. This is why we insist that Delta Line cannot be sold off pretentiously for peanuts.
We are particularly vexed that this magnificent company which has been making a huge impact on the lives of the downtrodden people for many decades, and one that has great commercial prospects was abandoned and left to be run down under the various PDP administrations in the state. It is only record that billions of Naira was invested in this company under the Uduaghan administration, and whatever went wrong is further evidence of how Delta state has been poorly managed by subsequent PDP governments.
We totally condemn the obscure process by which the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration has perfected this planned divestment. The change of ownership structure as planned is like a bogus fraud and smells of the same old tricks that previous PDP-led governments employed to favour their cohorts to the detriment of the people. This deal only serves to validate accusations that Governor Okowa is also out to exploit Delta State, as previous PDP-led governments had done since 1999.
Unfortunately Governor Okowa does not recognize the fact that the people of Delta State are far smarter now. He cannot hoodwink Deltans anymore to believe that Delta Line was not viable because of huge debts, which one main reason his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, gave for the sale. Aniagwu further said, “the MOU which is yet to be signed provides that God-is- Good Motors will bring in N161 million to reorganize the company.” If the indebtedness was the main reason for this sale, then we could as well ask Governor Okowa to tender a resignation immediately because he has also not run Delta State efficiently; as the State has a huge debt overburden under his watch.
The ‘Partial Privatization Committee on Delta Line’ is believed to have worked hard at shutting out the
voice of the workers of the company, the Unions and indeed, the entire people of Delta State from having any input on this sale. If there was nothing to hide, why did the State government prevent the Workers and Unions from partaking in the discussions, especially after it was agreed that they will be represented in the deliberations of the Partial Privatization Committee? How could an important transaction like this that impacts over 700 workers and their families, as well as the entire people of the State be conducted in disguised secrecy?
From all available information, we can infer that Gov. Okowa may have arranged the supposed tendering exercise as a smokescreen. This arrangement is characterized by many ambiguous issues which underpin the impression that it was calculated from the beginning to only benefit the dealmakers. What makes it even more puzzling is the fact that the company assets of Delta Line may have been intentionally undervalued. Is it not amazing that any person would come to the conclusion that 60 percent of the value of a company like Delta Line with many landed properties and countless mobile assets (even if we omit the immense intrinsic value of the brand), is only N161 million. Anyone versed and knowledgeable in company acquisition knows that there is something called a Reserve Price, below which the owners may not be willing to sell. Now the question is we ask Gov. Okowa is, “What was the Reserve Price for the sale of Delta line? Surely, something is cooking somewhere.
It is a fact that the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational
Services Employees (AUPCTRE) put forward constructive proposals since 2016 for revitalizing the
company. Besides, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the strength of the AUPCTRE proposals also
submitted a potentially viable investment and management arrangement for the business. To be precise, the NLC offer for 60 percent stake as proposed by AUPCTRE, was to facilitate a N2billion investment with support from banks, in order to help return this service to profitability over a three-year period and save the jobs of the workers, but this was rebuffed without any serious consideration.
Deltans have a long memory and the people can recall that none of the PDP governors, including Gov.
Okowa, has ever opened up on the true financial records of previous investments to Deltans; if only to
know how much the State lost or earned, or what is accruing annually from the massive investments that
the State made since 1999 in various other companies. We use this opportunity to call on Governor Okowa to tell Deltans the true situation with its investments before proceeding to sell off this viable business.
We have also received information that Gov. Okowa is planning to sell off many State assets using this
same method, maybe AT&P Sapele will be next. And while Lagos state is advancing plans to build a 3,000 MW power generation plant, we hear that Delta state has put up a machinery to sell off its meagre and yet uncompleted 120MW Independent Power Plant (IPP) at Oghara. We totally reject and will challenge the sale of any state asset that is not done transparently and in line with best international practices.
Deltans do not deserve further deceitful takeover of their heritage. In like manner, we will advise the Board and Management of GIG Transport Development Company Limited (God-Is- Good Motors) that appear quite eager to acquire this attractive asset of Delta State to dissociate their company from this questionable deal until it has met the expected standards of transparency and due process. The entire process of the sale remains flawed as it has not involved all the critical stakeholders; otherwise, they may be entering into agreements and acquiring assets that may potentially put their company in legal jeopardy.
Delta State APC supports that the “Delta Line” heritage be saved. We support an open and transparent
process that will breathe new life and capacity into this service. We support a thorough and holistic review, including proper revaluation of the assets of the company, in a way that does not short-change the people of Delta State but ensures efficient and cost effective delivery of the services. Finally, we demand that Governor Okowa rescind the sale and restart this entire process to make certain that he is not consciously or unconsciously mid-wifing a deceitful takeover and forceful conversion of the people’s assets for personalbenefit.
Signed:
Engr. Leonard Obibi
State Publicity Secretary (Ag)
All Progressives Congress,
Delta State Chapter

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