By Olusegun Oruame

The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) will be sold to make it more “functional and productive to the Nigerian people”, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and senior aide of Nigeria’s President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, told IT Edge News.Africa in Lagos this week.

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He said NIGCOMSAT’s “future has been burgled as a government company because like most enterprises owned and managed by government, bureaucracy and ‘un-business’ practices has rendered the company worthless in all its years of operations. The company is just a shell of all the goals it was meant to achieve. A shame indeed!”

NIGCOMSAT is a publicly owned satellite communication company with a commercial orientation. But since NigComSat 1R was launched in 2011 as a replacement satellite, critics say the company has not been able to provide any meaningful satellite communication solution and has not evolved to become a viable commercial entity. Rather, it has become a financial burden on government; a place where political office holders reward their ‘yes men.’


“The waste has been monstrous and I can assure you that it is one of those government establishments the incoming administration sees as an economic drain that can be converted to asset if sold to more efficient private sector operators,” the senior aide added.

Also, another close associate of Tinubu with knowledge of Nigeria’s satellite industry expressed similar views. He spoke in Abuja.

“Unfortunately, and painfully so, NIGCOMSAT has become like NITEL and only a quick and strategic sale will save it,” he stated.


The 15 years lifespan of NigComSat 1R will be reached in less than three years from now, NIGCOMSAT has already announced plans to launch two new satellites, NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 before 2025.

Critics have dismissed this as another white elephant.

In fact, one expert in Lagos said: “NIGCOMSAT as it is today lacks technical capacity and market knowhow to meet the increasing challenges of the industry. It has never been able to leverage the huge opportunities for telecommunication and satellite broadcast services or even the demand for strategic communication in marine and security sectors whether inside Nigeria or the rest of ECOWAS region.”

NIGCOMSAT has gone through the widening route of whether it should be commercialized, privatized or left as a publicly owned company.  In 2015, the then Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, said government was working to have private investors buy into and manage the company by 2018 to make it more competitive.

In 2019, the federal government said it has shelved the plan to sell NIGCOMSAT and would only commercialize it. It went further to announce creating three entities out of NIGCOMSAT.

But it would appear, government is now keen to finally privatize the company. Earlier this month, the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Dikki, said privatizing NIGCOMSAT has become expedient.

His words: “In privatizing NIGCOMSAT, the security of the nation would not be compromised. The Bureau would strategize and evaluate how much private sector participation would be required in the company to drive growth,”

In December 2022, Tukur Mohammed Lawal Funtua took over as managing director of NIGCOMSAT following the retirement of the erstwhile Managing Director, Dr. Abimbola Alale.

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