The senator representing Oyo South, Rilwan Akanbi, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against selling national assets to help the country out of recession.
Nigerian billionaire, richest man, Aliko Dangote, recently suggested that it made more economic sense to sell off the country’s asset like the multi-billion dollar Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Joint Ventures, and use the proceeds to help the economy out of recession.
The proposal has been backed by Senate President Bukola Saraki and the National Economic Council which comprises state governors, the Vice President as the Chairman, Central Bank Governor, Finance Minister and others.
But many Nigerians have risen against the plan.
Mr. Akanbi told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday that the asset may be undervalued if sold at desperate times.
“The assets will end up with the capitalists who actually don’t have the resources. They will then run to banks to take deposits of ordinary Nigerians to buy assets which originally belong to them, the ordinary Nigerians. So what you have eventually is a situation where Nigerians are exploited through banks and also dispossesed of publicly owned assets.
“Apart from the economic dimension, national assets are instruments of unity in a country that is plural like ours. Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, Ijaw and all other groups have the consciousness that national investments unite us and that gains or otherwise therefrom are nationally shared,” the Senator said.
He added that privatisation in Nigeria has been “a big failure because it has always been a process of letting few persons who lack the required wherewithal – but are well positioned and have access to power and money deposited by Nigerians – benefit from artificial misery or crisis in various sectors. We must not take that route again.”
He said there were “other ways” through which the government could raise money and bring the country out of recession.
One alternative, according to Mr. Akanbi, is to give special support to SMEs and others in the micro economy through access to low-interest loans.
He also urged greater investment in agriculture.
“We need the state of Nigeria to lead the development process by deliberately linking agriculture with industrialization and support farmers so that we can attain self-reliance in food production. Spending billions of dollars on food importation is not sustainable; we must therefore produce what we eat by ensuring crops are not just brought of the ground but also converted to food.”
He said Nigeria should increase tarrif on imported food and improve quality of ones produced locally.
Mr. Akanbi said, “it is now imperative for all public office holders across the organs of government to make sacrifice and be set for pay cut. We must reduce cost of governance and cut wastes so that the government can have money to work for the people and the development of the country”.
He also urged state governments to implement terms of the Fiscal Sustainability Plan designed for them by the federal government, saying that “improved governance that is people and development-focused at sub-national levels is crucial for a lasting solution to our woes.”