Henry Uche, Lagos
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to align itself with state governments across the country to revive state -stranded assets and other enterprises.
At a webinar put together yesterday by Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in collaboration with Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Sanwo-Olu said many states including Lagos have unproductive assets which should be put into optimum use urgently.
According to him, any asset that does not generate revenue should be looked into to unlock its potentialities. ‘There are many assets in different states across the country which the Federal Government is controlling but have no business with. We in Lagos are private-sector friendly, we displayed that during the lockdown when we gave Eleven health facilities license to curb the spread of Covid-19. So let the private sector take the lead,’ he maintained.
More so, Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun said it is apt for government to let the private sector revamp the state by handling its unproductive enterprises, but first, it must mitigate the risks investors face in privatisation like political interference, bureaucratic tendencies and structures among others.
He posited that government is an enabler and catalyst and not operator for state-owned enterprises adding that state governors must make informed decisions regarding unyielding state assets.
‘Government must de-risk State-Owned-Enterprises for the private sector to manage in order to boost the economy. Government is not wired to operate state enterprises on a commercial basis,’ he put.
He called on the Ministry of Works to look into federal roads who need urgent attention, he noted that bad roads cost businesses a lot which eventually falls on the final consumers as prices soar. He added that the Ogun State Government is seeking strategic partners for a number of ongoing projects in the State.
‘We have projects in the health, aviation, and others because we want to give our people first-class Health care and other dividends of democracy,’ he said.
Also at the webinar, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, represented by the Deputy Governor, Bala Tela, allays the fears of investors saying that the State is safe for all and Sundry.
Tela noted that the State has constituted a council on privatisation which he oversees with the mandate of resuscitating its redundant and dyeing factories to revenue generation.
‘We are leveraging the potential in our agricultural, ceramics and other sectors that have been in comatose for long, therefore we seek private partners and investors for our health sector and others. Some of our state-owned enterprises shall go in for commercialisation while some for privatisation, so we are ready to give concessions. As for bridging contracts, we assured investors of continuity of projects even from one administration to another,’ he affirmed.
On his part, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai said the State is on the lookout for private investors to manage two out of three dormant manufacturing enterprises, noting that statutory enterprises need to be converted to private limited companies.
The Governor revealed that his administration has sold some public assets to the private sector for prudent management. He maintained that he did same in Abuja when he was the FCT minister and such yielded positive results.
‘Government can make unproductive enterprises like markets, Malls, shops, hotels, hotel and others to part of internally generated revenue source. Where we need to consolidate or incorporate we need to do it now, Bec we are running out of borrowing.
‘The Federal Government cannot bail us out all the time. So we need to privatise where necessary and invest in social sectors like health, education and the rest. Let’s stop spending money on maintenance without income,’ he beckoned.
Meanwhile, the chairman, presidential Economic Advisory Council, professor Doyin Salami, added that there is a need for Federal Government to create at least 90 million jobs for the teeming youth in the country. He decried the level of infrastructure decay in Nigeria noting that Economic growth would require mega investment, therefore, state governors must be very conscientious while privatising state assets to avoid undue accusations.
‘We have an infrastructure master plan of 2012 where 100bn was agreed to be spent annually, but what do we have today? The public sector alone does not have the wherewithal to make grow the economy at six per cent per annum. We need more Management and administrative experts to get there,’ he stressed.