26 September 2016, Abuja — Organised labour, weekend, advised the Federal Government to jettison planned sale of national assets, to avoid mass revolt and civil unrest that will be worse than the anti-SAP riots of 1989.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC; Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC; the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG; and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, in one accord, told government that it would be playing with fire should it go ahead to sell the assets.
No comment — Presidency
The Presidency kept mum, last night, as Spokesman to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a reply to the text message sent to him, said “no comment.”
However, Budget and Planning Minister, Udoma Udo Udoma, said in a statement on Saturday that the Federal Government would not sell critical national assets to shore up its foreign reserves as well as have funds to retool the economy against the current downward plunge.
According to him, government plans to source immediate funds to reflate the economy and implement capital projects in the 2016 budget.
Already, NUPENG and PENGASSAN have threatened to shut Nigeria over the planned sale, which they argued, would not profit the nation but a few privileged Nigerians.
According to PENGASSAN, the planned sale of national assets is a self-destructive move that would further impoverish Nigerians.
The union said the plan, meant to solve short term financial obligations, was targeted at handing over Nigerians’ collective commonwealth to a few individuals and further impoverish the rest of the people.
It advised that instead of selling assets, government should look for other ways of increasing the revenue base of the country, while plugging loopholes and leakages in public finances. PENGASSAN noted that governments at all levels should reflate the economy through execution of capital projects and payment of workers’ salaries.
We’ll shut down Nigeria — PENGASSAN
It stated: “Any attempt to sell these national assets will be met with stiff resistance from the Association, as PENGASSAN will galvanise every support, including that of our sister union and labour centres, to shut down this country by ensuring that every activity in the oil and gas sector is brought to a complete halt.
“Some opportunists in the cloak of businessmen and short-sighted politicians had earlier advocated the sale of public assets such as the NLNG, four state-owned refineries, Nigeria’s stakes in Africa Finance Corporation, AFC, the nation’s airports and reduction of government’s shares in upstream oil joint venture operations and this was approved by the National Economic Council, NEC.”
PENGASSAN National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Emmanuel Ojugbana, said such sales would further compound the economic and security problems in Nigeria.