From Magnus Eze, Abuja and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
THE recent call by billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote for the sale of the nation’s shares in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and the suggestion by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki that the shares, along with other sovereign assets in the oil and aviation sectors be sold to stem the current economic recession, yesterday, received sharp reactions from the organised labour.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said such proposal was unacceptable and noted that investments in the NLNG and joint venture oil upstream operations were profitable and represent potential sources of revenue into the future.
NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja, said those pushing for the sale of the commonwealth were already angling to acquire them and queried what happened, specifically, to the proceeds from the sales of power sector.
His counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Bobboi Kaigama said the Congress was totally against the sale and warned that such national assets “are like security assets that must not be toyed with.”
Wabba argued that it would further weaken the nation’s economic base, and called on Nigerians to resist the move. He vowed to liaise with all progressive and nationalist forces to resist further plundering of national assets.
“The accrued dividend payments from LNLG shares provided 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 12 years.
“The call is more worrisome when one considers the history of sovereign assets divestiture. 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.
“Inter-generational considerations require that we build 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,” Wabba said.