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Obasanjo Warns Buhari..Do Not Sell National Assets To Cabals

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday threw his weight behind the sale of some of the country’s national assets in order to overcome the present economic recession.
Obasanjo, however, said the sale of national assets must be carried out with caution.
He said this on Tuesday in his goodwill message 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, Ogun State.
He, however, said the national assets must not be sold to cabals.
He said the number of shares an individual or corporate entity should buy in such public assets should be regulated.
Obasanjo recalled his warning on the current economic recession, which was contained in a lecture he delivered on November 26, 2014.
In preferring solutions to the economic crisis, Obasanjo urged the government to spend less than the country was earning, fashion out ways to earn more revenue and borrow.
He said: “For me, we have brought it on ourselves.
“We don’t have to wring our hands and say ‘where are we’?
“In a simple layman’s language, the situation is that we are spending more than we are earning.
“We have not been able to save so that we can go and take from what we have saved.
“If you are spending more than you are earning, you will have to spend less, you earn more and you borrow.
“For us, we are to do the three as quickly as possible.
“We must borrow and we must go to the people that will give us loan with reasonable interest.
“You may do it with the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.
“I don’t say we must not go to them.
“When I was in government, I never said no to them, but don’t do their bidding.
“Out there, there is money but people will not part with their money unless you are doing the right thing.”
Obasanjo equally spoke of the need to improve agriculture.
He said: “I was shocked when the ban on importation of toothpick, which we imposed in 1977, was lifted four years ago.
“How can a nation seeking to rank among the best in the world continue like that?
“We must begin to do away with things that we can do without.”
Obasanjo said government should consider selling some shares of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to members of the public.
He said: “I do not see why 48 per cent of the NNPC cannot be privatised.
“I think the problem is in the coinage ‘selling of asset’ as if we want to throw out our inheritance.
“What we are actually doing by that is simply reorganising.
“It should however be done transparently and let it actually go public and not to cabals, their relations and friends.
“This is always the fear of Nigerians when issues like this arise.”
Obasanjo also lauded the efforts of the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, in steering the economy during such a difficult period.
He said time will soon prove her right.
He said: “I want to specially acknowledge the efforts of the Minister of Finance not because she is an Ogun State citizen, but because she is doing a marvellous job in a difficult environment.
“You are too close to what is happening now to be proved right, but time will soon prove you right.”
Speaking earlier, Adeosun reiterated the resolve of the present administration to use the opportunity created by the current economic challenges to put the economy right structurally once and for all in setting this nation back on the right path.
Giving the keynote address at the event opening, Adeosun said: “Underperformance can
no longer be tolerated as the oil revenues that insulated us from the impacts of this consistent underperformance are no longer available.”
The current administration, she said, has set out a robust plan to reposition our economy to ensure that what is being experienced today will never recur in the history of the nation.
She disclosed that the Federal Government realises the fact that Nigeria’s size, national endowments, population and future needs demand that the economy performs at its optimal potential, which it has yet to do in its 55 plus years of independence.
Adeosun explained that the drive for the economic turnaround is being led by the effective management of public money, which will act as a magnet for the mobilisation of private capital.
She said: “We have committed to changing Nigeria from an economic model that was driven by consumption to one that is driven by investment. We recognise that in the short term this is causing a dislocation as we redirect funds from recurrent day to day expenditure to the much needed capital investment that will drive our economic future. Nigeria’s vast economy can only be productive and profitable when it has the enabling infrastructure needed to unlock its much vaunted potential. Our economic plans will provide the link between our potential and our future.”
Citing infrastructure development as the crucial factor to the attainment of economic turnaround, Adeosun said: “Our diverse oil and gas sectors, solid minerals, manufacturing, agriculture, information technology and entertainment sectors are united by their common need for world class infrastructure. Until we fix our infrastructure our businesses will be hamstrung by high costs and will not be competitive.
“This government is determined to address this through direct and highly efficient expenditure and through collaboration with the private sector.”
Adeosun however stressed the Federal Government has already indicated that it has no intention of being a monopolist provider of infrastructure, saying the government is working closely with a number of partners to bridge the infrastructure gap and unlock the potential, noting the re-designation of federal roads to state roads that will enable such assets be concessioned and tolled.
Emphasising the need for positive contribution of all members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, the minister said there is the need to look beyond revenue sharing.
According to Adeosun: “Nigeria is a confederation of states and is, in my opinion, predicated on the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and in this regard I am looking forward to a new philosophy behind the Federation Account. It will not be a gathering to share revenues but rather to share ideas, best practice, opportunities and attainments that will ensure that each state operates as an independent revenue generating centre that is creating development based on its local endowments.
“Nigeria’s economic recovery, of which we are extremely confident, is not a top down recovery. It will be a bottom up recovery, it will be driven from deep within our 774 Local Government Areas, it will percolate to our 36 States and will combine into our common Nigeria. In other words, our recovery will be driven by the activities at the micro level in Nigeria, by groups of farmers, by collectives of artisanal miners deciding to formalise and increase their production, by local companies creating out grower schemes to support their raw material needs. t is when Nigerians begin to confidently invest that the essential foreign investment will follow. One large company that engages 3000 is very exciting but more exciting is 3000 Nigerians taking on two additional staff as our SME’s represent 50% of our GDP and are the real growth drivers.
“We are working to act as an enabler by investing decisively in power, roads, housing, transportation, airport infrastructure and education. To date we have released and fully cash backed over N700b and we are preparing another tranche in November. These investments are reviving long abandoned projects across the nation and directly and indirectly creating employment and wealth building opportunities. I think it is safe to say that this level of sustained and targeted capital releases has not been seen in recent times and is the direction that this government is committed to. However, our focus is not limited to the hard infrastructure. The soft infrastructure of our society is also receiving attention, for the first time in our history. We have funded the social intervention programmes with the commencement of the home school feeding programme, the cash transfers to the poorest in our society, the job creation opportunity for Teach Nigeria which will engage 500,000 young unemployed graduates, agricultural extension workers, construction artisans and low cost loans to small traders. These funds are flowing down into our State and Local Government Areas and will directly put money into people’s pockets and stimulate demand that will support our efforts to get the economy moving.”
Adeosun explained that The Fiscal Sustainability Plan, which was designed to reposition State finances by ensuring widened revenue focus and cost control as well as improved transparency and accountability, is a partnership commitment with State Governments to jointly improve public financial management.
She said: “The FSP is now entering its first phase of monitoring and as we have done in the past we shall not shy away from taking tough decisions if we see States not meeting their commitments.”
She declared that the Efficiency Unit, which is also delivering major cost savings at Federal level, is now being replicated across the states.
Adeosun closed, stating: “For this economy to move in our chosen direction of growth and job creation it is critical that every tier of government, every agency of government is synchronised towards our collective aims. Maximising revenue on the one hand but making sure that we obtain best value in expenditure on the other hand.”

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