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FG bent on selling national assets—Bloomberg report

Contrary to earlier claims by the apex government that it is not actually planning to sell any national asset when the new broke late last year, a new report released by new agency, Bloomberg has proved otherwise, alleging that the Federal Government is looking at generating as much as $16.4bn (N5tn at N305 to the dollar) through asset sales in the next four years to reduce the burden on the public budget.

In the report, it was gathered that government believes that the sales will help to tackle inefficiencies and stem “corruption in public enterprises,” according to a document prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, obtained by Bloomberg, which outlines the country’s plans for economic recovery from 2017 to 2020.

Though the report failed to list the target assets, it claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to introduce the proposal on an unspecified date this month.

Before now, government is placing side-by-side, fund raising options to reflate the recession troubled economy including multibillion dollar foreign loan deals which have continued to hit the rocks at the National Assembly.

It would be recalled that the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had on September 20, 2016, recommended the sale of some national assets and the utilisation of the proceeds for infrastructure development, but Nigerians were angered by the plot, thus forcing government to keep the asset sale option in view pending when Nigerians may be taken unawares after all.

Saraki had argued that it has become necessary for the nation to fight its way out of the current recession, adding that the measures should include part sale of the Nigeria LNG Limited; reduction of government’s share in upstream oil joint venture operations and financial institutions such as the African Finance Corporation; and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries.

It was not however clear, if government is trying to combine both going for loan and sale of assets in reflating the economy because it is still pursuing foreign loans before the relase of the Bloomberg report earlier this week.

But the sale of national assets was said to be one of the recommendations of the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, during the NEC meeting.

Besides, the sale of the assets had made the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi; and Africa’s richest person and President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote to be on the same page, saying the idea is good.

Whereas the permutations were ongoing, the organised labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, kicked against the move, warning the Federal Government to reject the recommendations to sell the country’s assets.

As it is, majority of Nigerians still see the asset sale option as government running out of ideas and a ploy to keep Nigeria bare naked by the end of the administration after all.

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