PENGASSAN and the futility of trade unionism in contemporary global economy
By Joseph Edgar… The title of this piece is very long and you will forgive me. There is no way that I could have captured what I am trying to say with just three words. There is nothing worse than not knowing that your era is gone. This is what happens with an aging superstar who refuses to bow to the forces of time and still insist on climbing the stage to sing songs that were massive when the kids that make up the audience were not born. He would come across like a caricature, an object of laughter and fun. That is exactly how these funny trade unions are beginning to look, the whole lot of them, PENGASSAN, NLC and the rest.
Their lack of understanding of the issues that pervade this era is really outstanding. They have not been able to attract great young and dynamic minds and as such still rely on archaic opposition politics based strictly on immediate shallow gains at the expense of the general politic.
On this issue of sale of assets, they have jumped to what they know best, threatening a strike action. That is usually their first point of call, a threat to action instead of dimensioning the issues, seek for interface and really try to understand the factors that may have led to whatever position they were kicking against.
What is the government’s position and why is the government considering this position? I hear that government revenues have dropped by at least 50%, forex is trickling in and the demand for it remains absurd. All these have impacted negatively on the budget, rendering it almost impossible to implement. We are now in recession after recording at least two quarters of negative growth, inflation is double digit, government cannot meet its obligations, the CBN is struggling daily to stop the Naira from hitting Zimbabwean levels and the options are really not much.
So it is either we go a borrowing which in itself remains herculean with the ongoing slump in oil prices, militant activities reducing our output to negligible proportions or we look inwards. Hence, the call for this sale. If you lose your job as an individual and still have five cars in the house won’t you sell some to raise liquidity? Will you continue keeping them or borrowing against them while you are facing starvation.
Where is PENGASSAN’s policy paper on these issues? Have they tried to throw up credible alternative suggestions? No! Instead they are dancing their usual macabre naked dance to the gallery seeking our support for a vain struggle.
As usual, the government should call their bluff, look critically at the strategy, engage more serious minded people and put together a nationalistic implementation plan. For me, with Buhari at the helm this is the best government that can take up this policy. At least, we know that the money will not be ‘chopped’ and even if the money is not judiciously utilized it can be used to shore up our foreign reserves thereby strengthening the Naira.
Someone said the government makes $1b as dividend annually from our investments with the NLNG and as such our stake should not be sold. That is pittance if we sell off and free up the place from all bureaucratic red tape and rely on taxes and fees which would be efficiently collected and utilized. We need to make government unattractive to avoid the Dogara/Jibrin type wahala and reduce rent seeking. With the assets in the hands of private individuals, corruption in government will reduce, more jobs will be created and the economy inflated.
So I say once again, sell the d….m assets if you will pardon my French. Let us raise the much needed liquidity to throw into infrastructure and other regenerative pursuits and just ignore these dragons who have nothing but their khaki to wear and their old solidarity anthems.
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