The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has cautioned against the proposed the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to privatise the refineries with an accusation that the government is determined to hastily sell off public properties to its cronies under the guise of making them more efficient.
It also warned against the commercialisation of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Nigeria Films Corporation, (NFC), Skypower Catering and Hotels Services, Commodities and Exchange Commission as well as the partial privatisation of Bank of Agriculture and the Bank of Industries.
The congress called on the National Assembly to probe all past sales of public entities and retrieve those that are found to have been sold to private interests, to stop the robbery of the nation’s collective interest.
In a statement signed by its President, Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC cited the recent privatisation of electricity which it said was against public interest and had not improved power supply.
“… And ever since that exercise, electricity supply have worsened, while consumers pay higher even as the lights have gone off under excuses that question the competences of the new electricity companies,” it read.
The NLC added that the government should reactivate, maintain and take charge of existing public refineries and also build new ones instead of selling them off, while private individuals can also build refineries.
Selling of the refineries in an economy largely dependent on oil, would mean the entire economy would become private property run by private individuals, mostly cronies of those in government, it said.
The statement issued yesterday read in part: “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.
“There is the need for caution because these properties belong to the Nigerian people as a collective wealth and the people have never been consulted and their interests considered before the sales. “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.
â€œWhat we need in Nigeria is not a blind adoption of neo-liberal policies that mortgage the interests and future of our people.”