Refections of an Industrial Sociologist on the Failed Attempts to Privatise the Nigrian Telecommunications (NITEL)
The privatisation of public enterprises as a way of broadening the economic participation by the private sector in order to facilitate economic development has become a hotly debated issue not only in Nigeria but in most developing economies. While the proponents of privatisation argued that it is an economic reform agenda that ensures efficient allocation and management of resources for rapid economic development and poverty reduction and creation of jobs, the critics argued that the programme inflicts social and economic pains on the weak, the poor and other vulnerable members of the public through loss of employment, reduction in income, reduced access to basic social services and increase in prices. Locating privatisation within the theoretical context of neo-liberalism, this paper reflects on the causes of the failed attempt to privatise NITEL as well as the reasons for dismal performances of most public enterprises in Nigeria. Reflecting on the utility or otherwise of privatising state-owned enterprises in Nigeria, the paper argues that though most public enterprises in Nigeria may have served their various purposes and have presently become conduit pipes draining the scare resources of the nation, however, the present political dispensation lacks the capacity and transparency to privatise national strategic assets like NITEL or any other for that matter in such a way that will make any positive difference in the life an ordinary Nigerian.
Keywords: Privatisation, public enterprise, corruption, neo-liberalism