Condemn assets sale
By AbdulRaheem Aodu
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and National Union of Garment, Textiles and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), have asked the federal government to cut public officers’ allowances and government’s overhead costs.
It also condemned planned sale of the nation’s airports, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and national refineries to raise money to cushion the current recession.
ACF’s National Publicity Secretary, Malam Muhammad Ibrahim, yesterday, told journalists in Kaduna that the previous sale of former national assets did not help the country economically, adding that selling the NLNG and four refineries would only strip the country of vital national assets without requisite funds coming into the nation’s coffers.
He said: “The growing calls by some prominent politicians and business tycoons on the federal government to consider the sale of strategic viable national assets, as an option to take the economy out of the recession at this material time, is inappropriate.
“Because, the past privatisation exercise did not yield the desired results in terms of judicious use of proceeds by the government or management practices of the assets by the new owners. The amount to be realised is not worth the exercise.
“Government enterprises like the Nigeria Airways, National Shipping Line, Ajaokuta Steel Company, NITEL, NEPA, etc, that were sold to selected Nigerians and their foreign collaborators in the spirit of privatisation, only succeeded in converting public enterprises to private ones, and some later became comatose. Of the ones that survived, their service delivery cannot be said to be better.
“ACF, therefore, considers it unwise for the federal government to contemplate the sale of our major national assets like the oil refineries, federal airports, NLNG, while we can use them as security against needed funds to boost the economy, as the recession is considered to be temporary. The federal government’s diversification policy in agriculture and solid mineral resources is aimed at boosting the economy to arrest the recession.”
Continuing, he said: “ACF wishes to suggest that unnecessary allowances of public officers and overhead costs that form over 40 percent of our annual budget should be converted to capital allocation to boost the economy. This is the time for national sacrifice in order to bequeath an enduring legacy to the next generation. Positive change usually comes with painful necessary sacrifice. ACF supports some of the measures proposed by the National Economic Council, but seriously objects to the sale of strategic national assets to get out of temporary economic recession.”
The Forum, however, called on prominent businessmen and women to invest their resources in the oil and gas industry, building of airports and other businesses that would compete favourably with the public ones to boost the economy through employment and infrastructure development.
On his part, General Secretary, NUTGTWN, Comrade Issa Aremu, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against what he called “feverish prescriptions of a few economic hit men, who deliberately undermine national development through recommendations that foster national assets stripping, rather than sovereign wealth generation.”
In a statement titled: “Nigeria Not for Sale,” Aremu, who is also a national executive of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday said: “Nigeria is not short of resources, but lacks genuine resourceful leaders at all levels that are committed to nation building. “At $50 per barrel of crude oil, Nigeria is a rich country, but sadly made impoverished by leaders whose governance lifestyles include scandalous budget padding, illegal double prohibitive pension compensation for army of two-term governors, sheer theft of public funds officially put at trillion of naira.”
Aremu noted that Nigeria would further slide into underdevelopment if NLNG Company, which paid $12.9 billion to NNPC over eight years period and paid $1.289 billion as dividends for 2013, was sold to the highest bidder for “another easy money.”