FORMER President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has thrown his weight behind call for the sale of national assets to raise money by the Federal Government, but, cautioned the government against selling them to cabals.
Obasanjo also said he foresaw the current economic recession two years ago and warned of its consequences.
The former President said this, yesterday, at the opening session of a two-day National Council of Finance and Economic Development conference held at the Green Legacy Resort, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
The conference was held in conjunction with Federal Ministry of Finance with the conference theme: Enhancing Revenue Generation and Obtaining best value for money in expenditure.
The former president, who identified port authorities and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, as part of assets that Nigeria could partly sell to generate fund, said: “I think the problem is in the coinage selling of asset as if we want to throw away our inheritance.
His words: “Look, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was run as personal things, even the Central Bank was also run that way. They write notes to the Central Bank to release so much. We cannot have a country run that way. We started NNPC about the same time Norway started and look at where we are.
I said it this morning, two institutions that were not tampered badly or not tampered at all in the last six years, was NLNG, the second one was pension fund which is going to about N6 trillion which has captured only seven million people out of over 20 million wage earners, if we can even double that, you imagine what that can be.”
Continuing, the former president said: “I see no reason why 48 percent of NNPC cannot be privatised. Don’t give it out to cabals, friends, relations, kiths and kins, let it go public so that even my driver can buy 10 per cent of NNPC and there should be limit to the share any individual or any cooperate organisation can buy, there is nothing wrong in that. The NNPC will then be run as NLNG was run.”
While calling on the Federal government to be transparent in the sale of the assets, he said “The only fear the people would entertain is themagomago, if there is no ‘magomago’ in it and it is transparent, yes. And when the money comes, the way it will be spent, yes, and when you have money and you want to buy again, yes.
I don’t see anything there, government should not feel shy, lets come out and say ‘this is what we are doing and this is why we are doing it’ and let people see and if anybody wants to ask questions, let them ask question, that is the way I see it and if any person is not happy about what I said, I have no apologies.”
On the way out, he said the major problem with Nigeria is that “we are spending more than we are earning and we have not been able to save for the rainy day.”
He suggested a three-fold solution; which includes: borrowing, spending less and earning more to solve the nation’s economic challenges