By Paul Obi in Abuja and Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday reiterated its position against the sale of national assets, warning the federal government that ‘Nigeria is not for sale.’
While stating the position of organised labour on the independence anniversary, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba argued that government should rather focus on strengthening the economy and ensuring a sustainable society than making attempt to place Nigeria on sale.
He said: “I salute the extraordinary resilience and patriotism of the average Nigerian. When all seems down and out, we always find ways of overcoming our adversaries.
“As we mark this year’s anniversary in the midst of a recessionary economy, and amid massive suffering and unprecedented challenges in the polity, we must keep faith that we will overcome our difficulties and challenges, and ultimately triumph over our current socio-economic and political challenges.
“On behalf of organised labour, I want to use this occasion of our national Independence Day to call on the political leadership of our country -from national to states and local government levels, that they need to do more to show selfless commitment to building a strong and sustainable country in which our current and future generations will be proud of.”
Wabba stated that “as the largest est black nation on earth, we collectively owe it as a duty to the black race, both on the continent and in the Diaspora to build a united and prosperous nation.
“For these aspirations to be achieved, government at all levels must strive to build strong and viable public institutions.
“The history of human development in all the continents of the world have shown that the developmental state had led the quest for the development of nations.
The NLC have maintained over the last three decades since the early 80’s that Nigeria is not for sale.”
He stressed that NLC “will continue to work with all genuine patriots to resist the policy that seeks to sell our commonwealth, our common patrimony to the politically connected and their patrons and sidekicks.”
On the unity of Nigeria, NLC president maintained that “as workers, our faith in the Nigeria nation is unshaken. Our members in every part of the nation from the creeks in the South-south, to the plain lands of the northern most part of the country, from the South-east to the South-west, we are committed to a united Nigeria; all those seeking to dismember our country for self-serving reasons will fail.
“Accordingly, I urge Nigerians to take a positive view of our country instead of indulging in self-recrimination and bitterness that hurt majority of us Nigerians.
“The time to rebuild our nation is now, for as they say, strength comes from rubble. We must never yield to despondency.
At 56, let us rededicate ourselves to working together to overcome our nation’s challenges.”
Also, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Cross River State has joined other groups and individual in Nigeria to oppose the proposed sale of national assets by the federal government as one of the measures at pulling Nigeria’s economy out of recession.
The PFN warned that the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) must not be sold by the federal government.
Opposing to the proposal, the Chairman of the PFN in the state, Pastor Lawrence Ekwok, pointed out that the sale of any of the countries’ public property would amount to daylight robbery.
Ekwok stated this in Calabar yesterday at a solemn assembly staged by the PFN in the state to pray for Nigeria as the country marks her 56th Independence anniversary.
Addressing members of the PFN at the event, Ekwok noted that from available facts, the sale of public property has never been of benefit to the Nigerian people.
“I would like to enjoin us to recall the past and ask questions about what happened to Nigeria’s national assets that were sold under the guise of commercialisation and privatisation in the past.
“Apart from the fact that the assets were grossly undervalued, due process was not followed in most of the sales as “powerful” government officials and business men were the ones who “bought” most of the assets and most of the funds that were supposed to accrue to government coffers never came in.”
Continuing, the PFN chairman said: “The Ajoakuta steel company, for instance, was built then at the cost of $3.3 billion, but was sold at a paltry sum of $250 million to a Russian company known as Rusal. As if that was not enough day-light robbery of Nigerians, only $130 million of the $250 million was paid. Nothing has been heared about the balance till date. Delta Steel company was valued by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) at N225 billion but was sold at N4.5 million only.
“Let me not bore you with stories of other national assets that were sold including Volkswagen of Nigeria (VON), Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN), Alluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), Nigeria Re-insurance, NICON Insurance, etc.”