Nigerian government plans to sell national assets, as a way of lifting the economy out of recession, have come in for criticism from the country’s trade unions, politicians and some leading Nigerian economists.
The government maintains that it intends to sell-off only a small percentage of its shareholding in only a few selected assets, and not the entire national property. Moreover, there was a clause in the sale process that would allow the government to buy back the shares in future.
Among those supporting the sell-off of Nigeria LNG Limited (NLPG) were the country’s richest man Aliko Dangote, and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who said that selling state assets was a way out for the government as it faced a growing economic crisis.
However, the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) described those calling for the sale as "economic vampires government must beware of". The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said the proposal was "a self-destructive move". Prominent Nigerians, including former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chukwuma Soludo, have also voiced criticisms against the proposal.
The former Central Bank top honcho said the proposal was largely self-serving and convenient, and would only be a win-win for both government and its private sector collaborators, with Nigerians and the economy as the losers.
The government says that though no plans have been finalized, it is looking to sell-off 5 percent of its equity in NLPG. Nigeria currently holds 49 percent majority equity holding in the plant, in partnership with Shell BV (25.6%), Total LNG Nigeria Ltd (15%) and Eni (10.4%).
Analysts believe that some of the intended sales could be in form of time-bound leases and advance renewal payments on leasing licenses and concession, which would attract buoyant signature fees.