As the debate continues as to whether the Federal Government should sell national assets to wriggle Nigeria out of recession continues, a former Director of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Akpan Ekpo, who is also a Director General of West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, WAIFEM, warned that the sale would further plunge the country deeper into economic crises.
Also, the Economists and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo share his views through news media over the assets sale controversy and he argued that selling government assets, oil or non-oil, will not take Nigeria’s economy out of the present recession.
“We have privatized government assets previously and it never worked. We unbundled the PHCN yet power supply remains epileptic. Nigerians need to know the assets to be sold. NLNG for example is not doing badly so why sell it? Prof. Ekpo said.
“Previously privatized governments assets are littered all over the country. Selling of government assets would throw thousands of Nigerians into the labour market looking for jobs.
“Recessions are part and parcel of a market economy. What do you sell when another recession sets in? Selling government assets during a recession would only enrich few Nigerians at the expense of the working people.”
The Professor believes that the present recession provides an opportunity to better manage the economy to minimize its adverse effects. Hence, he suggested that government should borrow from external and domestic sources to finance capital projects, provide states with conditional loans to pay backlog of salaries, thus, addressing both the demand and supply problems of the economy.
Meanwhile, Mr. Adeola Adenikinju, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law at the University of Ibadan, supported the move and he advised the Federal Government to privatise the refineries or sell off a substantial amount of its stake in the entities.
In his arguments, Professor Adenikinju said that these assets will not only increase government income but also reduce the huge foreign exchange spent on petroleum products imports. He, therefore, encouraged the FG to scout for more of such assets and make them priority in government asset sales.
“I support divestment of some of government assets especially at a time like this where there is serious liquidity crunch in the country. Government is unable to meet some of its basic commitments. The economy is contracting. There is a need for injection of fund, especially foreign exchange. Hence, just as some oil companies did in recent time, the country can also divest some of its assets,” Adenikinju said.
“However, the critical factor is the process of divestment. How do we ensure we get fair and just values for the national assets? How are we sure that the funds realised from the sale is efficiently utilized for the benefit of the Nigerian economy? These are not trivial issues.”