By Joseph Edgar… I have just read that Aliko Dangote has advised that we start selling off our National Assets for cash. As is expected, he has run into a turbulence with this suggestion. Those who do not understand the dynamics of modern day economics and who remain enmeshed in primordial and tribal based politico economic morass will immediately jump up and shout to the roof tops why this suggestion is selfish and cannot work.
The inefficiency that comes with continued gover meant involvement in private sector business initiative cannot be overemphasized. The fact as I have read is that the NLNG remains our most lucrative franchise which is the more reason for the government to step back and morph into what it should traditionally be doing which is to collect taxes and provide regulatory oversight. This would in my minds eye further increase its profitability and efficiency.
Today, the issues that bedevil government are the same acting as a clog in its wheel. The slow turn around time of government decision, the ineffective allocation of human capital to represent its interest on the Board and Management and this is very crucial becuase what drives government in these decisions is federal character and not necessarily competence and you will agree with me that this usually does not lead to efficiency. But despite these, the kind dividends NLNG is being recorded as returning only tells us that the way to go is to further support it by the withdrawal of government involvement.
Let these government franchises run as privately owned concerns and you will see its tax receipts quadrupled. Can you imagine how much big firms like Apple and Microsoft pay to their governments in terms of taxes and other such collections? . The U.S. government does not really need to be a shareholder to maximize its benefit in those firms. They provide regulatory oversight, protect their interest home and abroad and with its agencies ensure that best practices are kept and due tax returns are filed.
This leads me to the basic tenets of government. What in essence is the governments role in private business? My people it is not to manage and own. Yes, because of our unique situation in the evolvement of our country and the series of military incursions, the specter of command and control of the commanding heights of private business was fostered on us. The Obasanjo regimes policy of indegenisation and Nigerianization following his strong support for the anti apartheid movement in South Africa further entrenched this aberration in our clime. Strong assets were indefinitely and held by government who now put their lackeys on these Boards. These decisions were taken not with the interest of the business at hand but with the obvious intent of creating a balance which if we want to be true to ourselves is the major drive for government – federal character principle.
Furthermore, we even need the cash. As I write, I do not even know the true worth of the assets, but rather than look towards borrowing externally we should look towards this sale with the sole aim of pushing the proceeds towards infrastructural development and other regenerative areas that would ensure a better working and businnesday environment for private business to strive.
My vote is for the total sale and I support those who are for this. Those against it are either being not truthful to themselves or are do not understand the issue. Dangote’s call is nothing but highly patriotic and would go a long way to increase foreign investor confidence and calm the storm that has been brewing as a result of summersaulting government economic policy and the seeming suffocating hold of government on the Businnesday terrain.
So let’s sell or better still throw it out there as a national referendum and let’s see what the majority of Nigerians think.
Ripples Nigeria…without borders, without fears
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