Call for the Sale of National Assets: In whose Interest? -Ishola Adebayo

October 14, 2016

The recent call by Aliko Dangote for the sale of the national shareholdings in the NLNG and the suggestions 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 are suspicious, unacceptable and unpatriotic, there seems to be a sinister motive behind the call for the sale of our common patrimony.

Those angling to sell or buy Nigeria’s cherished national assets don’t seem to believe in Nigeria. They don’t seem to believe that there is a future for Nigeria. For them, the Nigeria they know and believe in is the Nigeria of today. What you call Nigeria, in their mind, may evaporate into another “there was a country”, in the words of Chinua Achebe.

That is why they want to sell off whatever assets belong to the country so that when it comes to pass that there was once a country called Nigeria, they will live and own those assets in whatever new political entity they find themselves. Otherwise, why should any patriotic citizen contemplate selling of our national assets in the guise of tackling recession? In whose interest is this selfish agenda?

Investments in the NLNG and Joint Venture oil upstream operations are profitable and represent potential sources of revenue in the future. 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?

Latching on the current economic downturn as reason to sell the assets is just a ploy because Nigeria is not the only country currently in recession. Nigeria is just one out of a host of countries that are now in “the recession club”. None of those countries has put up its priced national assets for sale. What the countries are engaged in is critical thinking to devise creative strategies to boost production. Selling of national assets is tantamount to cutting the head because one has headache. The Igbo say a madman sets his house on fire to allow more light!

Countries that have had recession often come out stronger due to the proactive policies put in place that wouldn’t have been there without the recession. Therefore, recession is not a death knell on any country. All that is required is unrelenting thinking devoid of egocentric or ethnic maneuvering.