Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, Shehu Sani, has strongly criticised those calling for the sale of the country’s national asset, describing them as “economic predators and profiteers who want to take advantage of the situation in the country.”
The Kaduna State senator told the media on Friday that capitalist forces who “raped Nigeria to recession” now want to “kill and bury it.”
The call for the sale of some of the Nation’s assets gathered steam following comments attributed to Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, suggesting that the federal government should sell off the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, NLNG, and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Joint Ventures, so that the proceeds would help the country out of recession.
The suggestion was supported by some prominent Nigerians including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele; however majority of Nigerians seem to be against the idea.
Sani said the idea was clearly not in the best interest of the nation as experience had proven that privatization in Nigeria has only enriched a few of the so-called ‘big men’, but has not in any way benefitted the masses.
He said: “There is currently nothing to show for the sale of government houses, (and) firms.
“The advocates of sale of our collective national asset simply want to dispossess Nigerians and expand their business empire.
“They call themselves private sector and business men; they refused to invest in agriculture, solid minerals or science and technology, they simply want to buy off profitable public assets.
“There are no captains of industry in Nigeria other than crony businessmen, rent seekers, commission agents who depend on patronage from government,” he said.
The lawmaker accused Nigerian businessmen of preferring to buy off “ready-made” assets instead of investing in ventures that could potentially yield even bigger dividends.
“They don’t want to buy Ajaokuta steel company because it’s not profitable; they don’t want to invest in solid minerals, Agriculture or science and technology, they don’t want to invest in the exploration of oil in Chad basin or Benue trough; They want to buy NLNG and NNPC.”
“Selling our national asset to stem recession is like selling ones lungs to buy food,” Sani said.
“Recession should excite innovation and ideas and not justify roguery.
“Nigeria’s poor have always lived under systemic recession and depression and on the edge of extinction,” he added.
The Lawmaker called on all Nigerians to reject any attempt at selling any of the Nation’s asset.