Nigerians Condemn Calls for Sale of National Assets

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Joe Ajaero

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Nigerian workers condemns call for the sale of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas as evil and unpatriotic, threatens to resist it

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Sep 26, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT  |

NIGERIAN workers have condemned the call on the federal government by some prominent people in the country to sell national assets like the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG.  The workers through its union described the call as not only evil but an unpatriotic act aimed at continuous enslavement of Nigeria.

Joe Ajaero, factional leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, warned that any attempt to sell the assets would be resisted because previous privatisation exercises only helped few privileged individuals to appropriate national assets to the detriment of the general masses. A statement issued on behalf of the workers by Ajaero, noted that the privatisation exercise had failed woefully in Nigeria.

“Congress views with utmost apprehension the recent call on the federal government by some highly placed individuals to sell-off our priced national assets especially the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company to private entities. We were alarmed at the call but considered it inconsequential at that time but agreed to raise the red flag on it and watch events closely. Our fears have, however, rebounded greatly keeping us on our toes after reading the text of Bukola Saraki, senate president’s welcome back address to the 8th Senate after its recess.

“We assert that this call is contemptuous of the Nigerian nation and its suffering masses. To seek to sell our remaining national patrimony is to say the least an attempt to mortgage our collective future in favour of a few economic cannibals and buccaneers who unconscionably have commandeered the Nigerian state and its levers of power with the hope of using it to hijack our national patrimony,” the statement said.

Labour vowed that Nigerian workers and masses cannot stand by and watch this group of jobbers whose source and history of wealth is well known to many Nigerians further plunge this nation deeper into the mud under the guise of seeking solutions for the perhaps contrived economic recession.

“Those whose actions in the past have all cumulated into the economic mess are now seeking avenues to offload and launder their stolen wealth. Historically, no nation has had to sell off its treasures as a means of resolving recession. A man that trades his house for food will have no place to stay after the hunger is assuaged. The idea of selling off assets such as the NNPC and by extension the nation’s holdings in the JVCs, the NLNG, shares in international financial institutions such as ADB and IFC are rather paradoxical.

“It amounts to mortgaging the future of our unborn generation so that few individuals can satisfy their yearnings to control our national patrimony. A sensible nation does not go on chest-thumping trying to sell its cash-cows or its performing assets in times of difficulties. These assets guarantees the nation’s present and future as it provides the much needed resources to continue running the nation. In Nigeria, we seem to have perfected the act of the absurd putting common sense and logic on its head all the time to our eternal detriment.”

The statement by the NLC came after Saraki had on Tuesday, September 20, itemised measures he said the federal government must take to get Nigeria out of recession. The measures include the partial sale of the Nigeria LNG Limited and the reduction of government shares in upstream oil joint venture operations.

He also recommended the sale of government’s stakes in financial institutions like the Africa Finance Corporation and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries to private operators.

According to him, the current economic recession transcends political parties, as well as religious and socio-cultural divides. The senate president noted that the economic problem facing the nation was a collective problem and should be treated as such.

He stressed that the executive must begin to take steps to show not only Nigerians but the international community as well as local and foreign investors that the nation was ready to reform and do business.

Similarly, Aliko Dangote, group chairman, Dangote Group, supported the sale of government assets to raise funds for the country. Dangote told Bloomberg TV at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York, on Wednesday, September 21, that “Through sales of assets, through loans from Bank of China or wherever, we need something like $15 billion [to bring Nigeria’s economy out of recession]. We’re having a problem as the reserves are low. The banks, entrepreneurs, everybody is speculating on the currency.”

Supporting, Muhammadu Sanusi II, emir of Kano, who spoke in Lagos, on Wednesday, said the option would enable the country finance key projects that will improve the economic status of the country, while it can buy back such assets when the economy bounces back.

Although the federal government is yet to comment on this issue but the future appears bleak as the organised labour prepares for a showdown if it decides to sell the national assets.

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