Labour Union rejects sale of national assets

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, says the suggestions made to the government to sale national assert is unacceptable.

The union’s opinion is following the call made by a Nigerian born Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote for the sale of national share holdings in the Nigeria Liquefied National Gas, NLNG and also the suggestion by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Sarai that the shares, along with other sovereign assets in the oil and aviation sectors be sold as a way of stemming the current economic recession.

A statement issued by Labour on Thursday in Abuja said, ‘‘Investments in the NLNG and Joint Venture oil upstream operations are profitable and represent potential sources of revenue into the future.

“For example, it was the accrued dividend payments from NLNG shares that provided the resources for the first bail-out to states when many states could not pay salaries under this present regime.  It is on record that dividends, in excess of one billion dollars, have accrued annually to the national coffers from the gas company over the past twelve years,” a statement signed by NLC, President Ayuba Wabba read.

He says the calls are more worrisome when one considers the history of sovereign assets divestiture in the past.

“Where are the proceeds from sales of the assets in the power sector for instance?  With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that these assets were distributed to favoured individuals and surrogates of the ruling elite without any appreciable benefits to Nigerians. 

“While we recongise that there is need to take urgent steps to stem the dwindling fortunes of the national economy, we are convinced that the proposals in question will further weaken the revenue capacity of government in the future and weaken the economic base of the nation,” the NLC President explained.

Lessons from others
Wabba insists that there are lessons to be learnt from some other OPEC countries which invested their oil revenues heavily in the acquisition of sovereign assets, both domestically and internationally.

”Such countries today are deriving a steady stream of earnings from those assets and are, therefore, less vulnerable to the fiscal crisis occasioned by failing oil revenues,” he stressed.

According to Wabba, Inter-generational considerations require that Nigeria builds on these existing investments by identifying other profitable endeavours to invest in.

“What we need is to leverage on the stream of potential earnings from these investments in seeking to turn around the economy…We, therefore, call on Nigerians to resist these new scheming by those waiting and wishing to lap up these lucrative national assets.  We need to preserve these assets for our children and future generations,’‘ he further stated.

“On our part, we are ready to partner with other progressive and nationalist forces in our country to resist the further attempt to plunder our common patrimony,” the NLC president added.


Chiamaka O.