FG, governors okay sale of national assets

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo

Fidelis Soriwei, Eniola Akinkuotu and Ifeoluwa
Ogunfuwa

The National Economic Council, which comprises
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and 36 state
governors, has endorsed plans by the Federal
Government to sell some national assets as part of
efforts to address the current economic recession
in the country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President
on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said in a
statement that the sale of national assets was one
of the recommendations of the Minister of Budget
and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma (SAN),
during the National Economic Council meeting on
Thursday.
Other recommendations, he stated, included the
diversification of the economy and the use of
recovered loot.

The statement added that as part of measures to
revive the economy, “the President’s Economic
Management Team is working on plans to generate
immediate larger injection of funds into the
economy through assets sale, advance payment of
licences renewal, infrastructural concession, use of
recovered funds etc. to reduce funding gaps; and
implementation of fiscal stimulus/budget
priorities.”
The government also wants to “fast-track
procedures through legislation and implementation
of Strategic Implementation Plan of the budget; and
engage in the meaningful diversification of the
economy and cut down importation.”
In her presentation, the Minister of Finance, Kemi
Adeosun, revealed that the balance of the Excess
Crude Account was $2.453bn as of September 20,
2016.
On the budget loan support facility for the states,
Adeosun told the council that N50bn had so far
been disbursed to the state governments.
In the area of housing, the finance minister noted
that there was a target of N1bn to operate a
Public-Private Partnership (N500bn initial) to
create a blended pool of long term funds to
intervene in housing development finance and
mortgage provision.
She said the aim was to deliver family housing
priced from as low as N2.5m up to N18m,
delivered in a ‘‘ready-to-occupy’’ condition with
essential services, including water and electricity.
Adeosun added, “The delivery target is 400,000 to
500,000 housing units per annum. The ultimate
aim of the programme is to channel funds from
savers to borrowers so that builders have the
required capital to construct and prospective
buyers can access credit to purchase.
“The fund will attract low cost local and
international capital, including from domestic
pension and insurance funds, FG funding as well
as contributions from state governments and other
agencies.”
The Governors of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu;
Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi; and the Deputy
Governor of Ogun State, Yetunde Onanuga, told
journalists after the four-hour meeting that the
council members commended the Economic
Management Team and supported the plan to steer
the nation out of recession.
Bagudu added, “The National Economic Council
met today (Thursday) at its sixth meeting of the
year, which is the 70th National Executive Council
meeting and the Ministers of Budget and National
Planning and the Central Bank Governor all made
presentations and the highlights of the presentation
were the sad news that the economy was in
recession largely due to the dependency on single
commodity, which is crude oil, which prices we do
not control.
“And in particular, it was noted that our economic
managers, the National Economic Team, are
responding in competition with economic
managers elsewhere; so, it’s not an easy task, it is
a very difficult task and we crave the indulgence of
our nation to give them a chance for the measures
to take effect.”
Ajimobi said the Presidential Technical Committee
on Land Reform presented the draft regulation on
Land Use Act 2013 to NEC.
According to him, the regulation seeks to make
provisions to streamline mortgage transactions and
clearly delineate the rights, duties and obligations
of a mortgage.
Onanuga stated that Adeosun and the CBN
Governor, Godwin Emefiele, briefed NEC on the best
options for managing floating Forex policy
introduced by the CBN.
Highlights of the presentation, she said, included
CBN introduced cautious Monetary Policy
orientation as dictated by consumer price and
exchange rate, adoption of policy tightening
measures for flexible Forex rate to address
persistent pressures occasioned by scarcity and
speculative demands, improving market dynamics
by CBN, interventions to states in the area of
salaries and in commercial agriculture.
Some of the governors at the meeting included
Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna); Ayo Fayose (Ekiti);
Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta);
Abubakar Mohammed (Bauchi); Willy Obiano
(Anambra); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Abdulfatah
Ahmed (Kwara); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Olusegun
Mimiko (Ondo); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Badaru
Abubakar (Jigawa) and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo
State.
The governors of Ogun, Rivers, Nasarawa, Katsina
and Lagos were represented by their deputies.
NLC, TUC, NUPENG oppose planned sales
But organised labour has warned the Federal
Government to reject the recommendations to sell
the country’s assets, specifically its shares in the
Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited and
the aviation industry.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union
Congress of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of
Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, in separate
statements on Thursday, described the advice
given by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki,
Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi and Aliko
Dangote as selfish and not in the national interest.
They pledged to resist any further sale or
concession of national assets under the guise of
fighting economic recession.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said
government’s investments in the LNLG and Joint
Venture oil upstream operations were profitable
and should be preserved for the future.
Wabba said, “It is on record that dividends, in
excess of $1bn, have accrued annually to the
national coffers from the gas company over the
past 12 years. 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?
“With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that
these assets were distributed to favoured
individuals and surrogates of the ruling elite
without any appreciable benefits to Nigerians.
The TUC described those calling for the sale of
national assets as enemies of Nigeria.
The TUC President, Mr. Bala Kaigama, and the
Acting Secretary-General, Mr. Simeso Amachree,
said in a statement on Thursday that the
suggestion for the sale of the assets was also
disgraceful.
“The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria warns those
calling for the sale of national shareholdings in
Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited and
concession of the country’s airports to drop the
idea if they do not want to incur the wrath of
workers. Those suggestions are disgraceful and
portray them as enemies of the state,” it said.
NUPENG President, Igwe Achese, called on the
Federal Government to ignore the advice and
encourage foreign and local investors to set up
new refineries.
He reiterated that the economy could be revived
through short-term, medium-term and long-term
economic measures to ameliorate poverty and
suffering of Nigerians.

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