Should the President Muhammadu Buhari led FG proceed with its proposed sale of nationals assets to fund the 2016 budget?
Organized labour including NLC, TUC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN said they are set for mass revolt, civil unrest worse than the anti-SAP riots of 1989. The minister for Budget and Planning Minister, Udoma Udo Udoma however said the Federal Government would not sell critical national assets to shore up its foreign reserves as well as have funds to retool the economy against the current downward plunge. However labour said it is ready to shut Nigeria over the planned sale, which they argued would not profit the nation but a few privileged Nigerians. While reacting, PENGASSAN said; “Any attempt to sell these national assets will be met with stiff resistance from the Association, as PENGASSAN will galvanize every support, including that of our sister union and labour centres, to shut down this country by ensuring that every activity in the oil and gas sector is brought to a complete halt. “Some opportunists in the cloak of businessmen and short-sighted politicians had earlier advocated the sale of public assets such as the NLNG, four state-owned refineries, Nigeria’s stakes in Africa Finance Corporation, AFC, the nation’s airports and reduction of government’s shares in upstream oil joint venture operations and this was approved by the National Economic Council, NEC.” “The proponents of the sale of national assets are those who have been actively involved in the operations of the nation’s economy in the past. They were part of those responsible for the country’s current economic situation. “Moreover, such sales in the past, including the power and steel sectors privatization, were just a shift from public to private monopoly which has further worsened those sectors. “It is, therefore, the candid position of PENGASSAN that such plan should be thrown into the trash bin. Government should continue to seek better ways to address the present economic challenges and reduce areas of wastages.” On its part, NUPENG through its General Secretary, Mr. Joseph Ogbebor, said; “We will resist the sale with all our might. It is not in the best interest of Nigerians. It will only compound the unemployment in the country. It will also compound the restiveness and agitation in the Niger Delta. There is no way we are going to accept it. If the President is really a patriot as claimed, he should not yield to the pressure because enemies of the country are at work. “However, our organs will meet either as NUPENG or jointly with PENGASSAN to deal with it. Certainly, it is unacceptable, unpatriotic, anti-Nigeria and must be rejected and resisted by all. We call on Mr. President to declare a state of emergency on the economy and summon an all-encompassing stakeholders meeting to brainstorm on how the present economic challenges can be quickly addressed. “NUPENG is of the view that Nigeria is a big market and certain measures should be put in place to reflate the economy so that it will be an investors’ destination.”
Also reacting, the TUC through its acting secretary general, Simeso Amachree said; “We are not going to accept it and we will resist appropriately. As it was done before, it is an attempt to take over the national assets. “Like we stated earlier, the idea should be dropped or they will incur the wrath of workers. “It is our thinking that if those clamouring for the sales pay their appropriate taxes, there would be enough money to bring the country out of the woods without sacrificing our national assets. “Truly, we appreciate the concern of some sincere people in government, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, who is working tirelessly to fix the economy. But we get worried when people suggest we sell investments like NLNG which provided the money for the bailout of states when they could not pay salaries or concession our airports. On what grounds? “The Congress will mobilise and resist any further sale or concession of our national assets under whatever guise.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s minister of finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has revealed that she cannot predict when the country will out of the current economic recession.