Yetunde Oladejo, Osogbo
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has rejected the recent calls by some prominent Nigerians for the sale of federal government owned shares in the National assets.
The National Publicity Secretary of CDHR, Rasheed Raji Ropo, in a statement made available to newsmen in Osogbo, Wednesday, stated that the call by these group of people are for selfish interest saying that the sale of these assets will benefit only the people clamouring for its sale.
The group recalled that the foremost industrialist, Aliko Dangote specifically suggested that the federal government should sell its 49% interest in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) which is without doubt the most profitable asset owned by Nigerian government now and any other dormant state owned assets so as to be able to beef up foreign reserves and aid Nigeria in coming out of recession.
According to CDHR, “These misguided calls for the sale of our national assets has wrongly received a boost as the national economic council, which comprises of the vice president and the 36 state governors endorsed the plans to sell the assets as part of efforts to resuscitate the economy.
“While we all admit that the recession is biting hard and that urgent measures should be taken to save the Naira from the free fall against Dollar and resuscitate our ailing economy, we do not believe that selling of our collectively owned national assets is the right thing to do at the moment.
“Going down the memory lane, one would recall that Nigeria had previously sold off a lot of its assets in the past with the promises of better tomorrow, prominent amongst them are; the Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigeria Airways, Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL).
“The sale of most of these aforementioned national assets was to resuscitate and redeem our comatose economy at that time and make the companies more accountable and efficient, but up till this moment it is still the same story all over again.
“We urge every well-meaning Nigerians to treat these calls by some politicians and businessmen regarding the sale of our national interest as being selfish and made without utmost good faith.
“We believe that the sale of these assets will benefit only the people clamouring for such sales, as previous sales of our collective assets by the government has either been undervalued or sold to the same people clamouring for the sale at a give-away prices to the detriment of taxpaying Nigerians whose money and collective efforts are being given away as peanuts.
“We urge the federal government instead of selling our national assets to substantially reduce the jumbo salaries and allowances being presently wasted on both the red and green chambers of the National Assembly and equally sell off some of the aircrafts presently being owned in the presidential fleet, which is the second largest air fleet in Nigeria and use the proceeds to resuscitate our economy and if necessary borrow from the International communities.
“Lastly, buildings in places like Asokoro, Maitama, Lekki and other eyebrow and choice areas across the country should be taxed while owners of such buildings who cannot defend their means of acquisition and ownership should be investigated and prosecuted once convictions is secured such buildings should be forfeited to the federal government.”