1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Privatization (the transfer of government owned share-holding in public enterprises to private shareholders) is one of the revolutionary innovation in economic policies of both developed and developing countries (Igbuzor 2003: Chambers 2008).The ultimate goal of any credible and legitimate government is to ensure sustained improvement in the standard of living of the citizenry. Towards this end, Nigerian government found it necessary to design a developmental plan that will facilitate effective mobilization, optimal allocation and efficient management of national resources. To achieve this aim, public enterprises were established across the country to carry out these obligations. Towards the end of 1980, the public enterprises which had grown too large began to suffer from fundamental problems of defective capital structures, excessive bureaucratic control and intervention, inappropriate technologies, gross incompetence and blatant corruption (Aboyade, 1974). With the deep internal crises that included the high rate of inflation and unemployment, external debt obligation and foreign exchange misalignment, Nigeria and many other African countries were strongly advised by the World Bank and I.M.F to divest (privatize) their public enterprises as conditions for economic assistance (Nwoye,1997).
This economic policy (Privatization) is a product of neo-liberal economic reforms that became popularized and globalized through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (I.M.F). As an innovative economic policy, Privatisation started in Chile under the Military Government of General Augusto Pinochet in 1974 and was adopted in Britain between 1986 and 1987 as a central part of economic policy shift (Hanke, 1987). Privatization in Nigeria started in 1986 as an integral part of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) (F.G.N, 1986: Ndebbio, 1991).
Prior to this period, the Nigerian state has participated actively in public enterprises (Nwoye, 2003). This trend continued until 1988 when privatization programme was officially launched (Anya, 2000; Igbuzor, 2003). The Federal Government privatized 89 Public Enterprises (PEs) between 1988 and 1993 in the first phase while 32 enterprises were privatized in the second phase which ran from 1999 to 2005 (Mkpuma, 2005). It was envisaged that privatisation would improve operational efficiency of our inefficient public enterprises (PEs), reduce government expenditure, increase investment and employment as well as ensure job security in Nigeria (Subair and Oke, 2008; Jerome, 2008).
Surprisingly, since the official introduction of privatization in 1988, the policy has been a subject of intensive debate and has remained highly controversial in Nigeria (Nwoye, 2010). Most Nigerians hold divergent views on the contribution of the privatization programme to the Country’s economic development in its two decades of existence in Nigeria. Therefore this study attempts to convey the message that privatization is in the interest of the masses both in terms of poverty alleviation and enhancement of national development, through a careful study of Nigerian telecommunication sub-sector.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM