The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Thursday, condemned recent suggestions by some Nigerians that major national assets be sold to revamp the dwindling economy. The umbrella labour body warned that any attempt to heed to the call precipitate a nationwide resistance.
The Aliyu Waba-led NLC in a press statement, Thursday, said having viewed the recent call by the industry mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote for the sale of the national shareholdings in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural (NLNG) and the suggestion by the Senate President that the shares, along with other sovereign assets in the oil and aviation sectors, be sold to stem the current economic recession, is unacceptable.
According to the body, while explaining the benefits of the NLNG in the recent past pointed out that it was the accrued dividend payments from LNLG shares that provided the resources for the first bail-out to states when many states could not pay salaries under this present regime.
The NLC also placed 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.
In its words: “These 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 argued 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.
It stated that what Nigeria 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 schemings by those waiting and wishing to lap up these lucrative national assets. We need to preserve these assets for our children and future generations.”