PENGASsAN set to match opposition with strike action
By Daniel Damilola
Despite spirited efforts by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to convince Nigerians that it means well in its current plan to put up for sale several critical national assets, labour groups, legislators and other commentators have continued to fault the move.
Arguing that the proposed disposal of the assets of the nation totally contradicts the constitution of the country. commentators are arguing that the assets being the property of the nation they are governing, and which they swore by the constitution and laws to guard, anyone in government now promoting a national assets sale agenda was going against the law publicly.
Another fear being mooted is that there are even no guarantees that resources from the assets sale process will be judiciously utilized. as when they have been sold out to private wners, the funds that will be gotten from the process could also probably disapear like other state resources before it.
According to Barrister Femi Falana (SAN), “it is pertinent to point out that the suggestion is in total conflict with section 16 of the Constitution which has prohibited the concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of a few people or a group. Indeed, by section 44 of the Constitution, the nation’s natural resources shall be held in trust for the Nigerian people by the Federal Government.
He further argued that the asset the senators want to sell are what the nation is depending on as a country and once it is sold, it is like selling the pride of the nation out. And once our pride as a nation is been sold, what then is the benefit we gain after the money is squandered in a secret manner?
Equally, the senator representing Oyo South, Rilwan Akanbi, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against selling national assets to help the country out of recession.
“The assets will end up with the capitalists who actually don’t have the resources. They will then run to banks to take deposits of ordinary Nigerians to buy assets which originally belong to them, the ordinary Nigerians. So what you have eventually is a situation where Nigerians are exploited through banks and also dispossesed of publicly owned assets.
“Apart from the economic dimension, national assets are instruments of unity in a country that is plural like ours. Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, Ijaw and all other groups have the consciousness that national investments unite us and that gains or otherwise therefrom are nationally shared,” the Senator said.
He added that privatisation in Nigeria has been “a big failure because it has always been a process of letting few persons who lack the required wherewithal – but are well positioned and have access to power and money deposited by Nigerians – benefit from artificial misery or crisis in various sectors. We must not take that route again.”
He said there were “other ways” through which the government could raise money and bring the country out of recession.
Meanwhile the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAn has served notice of its intention to embark on an industrial action to press its case against the proposed sale of the national assets, a position this newspaper has learnt is indeed very popular and widespread across the rump of the Nigerian labour movement.