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A case against sale of national assets

By Adewuyi Adegbite   |   17 October 2016   |   3:49 am

The call by Alhaji Aliko Dangote on the Federal Government to sell some national assets to get the country out of its current recession has generated controversy between those who supported the idea and those who opposed it. The Senate President Bukola Saraki has lent his voice to the call to sell some assets. Others in their shoes are: Abuja Chamber of Commerce and industry (ACCI), Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Mr. Godwin Emefiele among others. On the opposing side are Nigeria Labour Congress, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu, former Benue State Governor, George Akume among others.

There is no doubt that the nation is in recession and concomitant economic hardship fixed by Nigerians which make quick solution to the quagmire imperative. Nonetheless, selling off the national assets is not the way out. It is unfortunate that many of our leaders are unpatriotic if not they would not be calling for the sale of national assets going by recent history of a similar exercise, through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), in which vital national assets were sold to cronies, friends and foreign interests using Nigerians as fronts. It is obvious that huge revenue was realised by the Federal Government from the sales but it is quite unfortunate that most of the fund ended up in private pockets. Second, most of the national assets were abandoned and rotten away or made ordinary warehouses by the buyers.

It’s crystal clear that many of the supporters of the call for the sale of national assets are not students of history. If not they would have assessed critically the history of the previous exercise and its desirability or otherwise at present. Or can you do the same thing the same way every time and expect different result?

It is a pity that many of our policy makers and major players in our economic field have sold their souls to the IMF and Bretton Wood and institutions without minding the effects on the nation’s development. It is obvious that the present call for selling of national assets is the continuation of the implementation of the IMF prescription for our economic ailments. Particularly, as regards the reduction of states’ participation in economic matters to the gain of the so-called private interests and their foreign sponsors.

Economic recession in Nigeria is a national phenomenon which nations experienced at different time and caused by natural causes, dynamics of international capitalism, fall in prices of national produce, embargo or sanctions on nations etc. In Nigeria’s case however, there are immediate and remote causes. One of the immediate causes could be traced to the nefarious activities of the Niger Delta Avengers who were blowing up oil infrastructures and causing economic sabotage for the nation. Nonetheless, remote causes which are more pressing include planlessness on the part of our past rulers economically.

And it is unfortunate that most of those who put the nation on her knees, with the exception of a very few are calling shots in different sectors of our economic and political life today. But for providence, how can the nation get out of the recession in this circumstance? Failure to save for the raining days, eat it all syndrome as exemplified by the near total emptying of the national treasury by the immediate past administrations both at the federal and state levels and even the legislature, who according to the former CBN governor, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi Lamido, cornered 25 per cent of the Nigerian annual budget.

Misappropriations of funds, embezzlement and corruption, misplaced priority etc, are other causes of the economic recession. Any sincere appraisal of the recession would look into the above factors and forestall recurrence among other prescriptions, excluding sale of national assets which with the transparent and accountable government we are having in the saddle today can turn around for the good of the nation.

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