Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, has condemned Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and others who called for the sale of the country’s national assets to salvage the dwindling economy.
In a statement on Friday, Sani described the call as being selfish saying there is nothing to show for the assets which have been previously sold, adding that those calling for the sale of the country’s assets are only interested in ripping Nigeria off while expanding their business empires.
According to Sani, “Nigeria’s capitalist forces raped Nigeria to recession and now they want to kill and bury it. 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 asset.”
Dangote, in a recent interview with CNBC Africa, suggested that the country will be better off selling assets like the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) and the African Finance Corporation which are dormant and then use the proceeds to boost the nation’s economy and get it out of the present recession. His suggestion received the support of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
“There are no captains of industry in Nigeria other than crony businessmen, rent seekers, commission agents who depend on patronage from government. Selling our national asset to stem recession is like selling ones lungs to buy food,” Sani said.
The lawmaker urged Nigerians to resist any move to sell the nation’s assets, saying “recession should excite innovation and ideas and not justify roguery.”
Sani’s position is at odds with the views espoused by the senate president Bukola Saraki who aligned with Dangote on Tuesday and said that the executive needs to raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves, calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilize the economy.
“The measures should include part sale of NLNG Holdings; reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations; sale of government stake in financial institutions e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatization and concession of major/regional airports and refineries,” he said.
Also, the National Economic Council (NEC) which is chaired by vice president Yemi Osinbajo and comprises of all 36 state governors and the CBN governor threw their weight behind the sale of assets to inject funds into the economy. Among the plans adopted by NEC are “asset sales, advance payment of license renewals, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds to reduce funding gaps,” among others.