The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the National Assembly to stop the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from the planned sales of some public property, including the nation’s refineries.
President of the Congress, Abdulwaheed Omar, who made the call in Abuja, said the haste with which government was determined to sell off public property to the ruling class and their cronies under the guise of making them more efficient “is alarming.”
He said there was the need for caution “because these properties belong to the Nigerians as a collective wealth and the people have never been consulted and their interests considered before the sales.”
He said: “It is scandalous that the same government who had always promised to use the gains from petroleum price increases, which it has received over the years, to reactivate existing refineries and build additional ones can turn around to announce the privatisation of refineries.
“This is clearly unacceptable, and the public have strongly opposed this attempt several times in the past, even on the floor of the National Assembly.
There is no evidence that previous privatisation exercises have succeeded.
“The major privatisation exercise that was implemented against public interest recently is electricity and ever since that exercise, electricity supply have worsened, while consumers pay higher even as the lights have gone off under excuses that questions the competence of the new electricity companies.”
Omar also warned that government should not abdicate its social responsibilities by selling off everything that “delivers services to the people.”
“This is unwarranted, especially in a country where poverty and unemployment has become endemic coupled with the collapse of industries.
“Our national economy depends largely on the oil industry and if we allow the industry to be handed over to private individuals, it would then mean the entire economy would become private property run by private individuals, mostly cronies of those in government, against our collective interests.
“We, therefore, advise the BPE to stop the proposed sales, while we call on the National Assembly to probe all previous sales and retrieve public properties that may have been sold to private interests.”