Monday, March 31, 2014 12:17 pm
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday called for the cancellation of the proposed idea to commercialise Federal Government-owned media houses and the privatisation of refineries in the country.
The congress gave the advice in a statement signed by its President, Malam Abdulwaheed Omar.
The statement said NLC was disturbed by the announcement that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had concluded plans to privatise the refineries.
It said the haste with which government seemed determined to sell off public properties under the guise of making them more efficient was alarming.
“We are disturbed by the statement from the Director-General of BPE, Mr Benjamin Dikki, who was reported to have announced that plans have been concluded by the BPE to privatise refineries .”
The statement said BPE had also announced the commercialisation of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), NAN and the Nigeria Films Corporation.
It said others to be privatised included Skypower Catering and Hotels Services and the Commodities and Exchange Commission.
The statement said BPE also announced the partial privatisation of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) and the Bank of Industries (BOI).
“BPE also announced the commercialisation of National Parks.”
The Congress said there was the need for caution “because these properties belong to the Nigerian people as a collective wealth of Nigerians.”
It said the Nigerian people have to be consulted and their interests should be put into consideration before the sales.
The statement said the NLC wished to remind government that it had always promised to use the gains from petroleum price increases to reactivate existing refineries and build additional ones.
It said there was no evidence that previous privatisation exercises have succeeded.
“The major privatisation exercise that was implemented recently is electricity and ever since that exercise, electricity supply has worsened.
“Consumers pay higher, even as the lights have gone off under excuses that question the competence of the new electricity companies.
“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 have become endemic, coupled with the collapse of industries.
“We, therefore, advise the BPE to stop the proposed sales, while we call on the National Assembly to probe all previous sales and retrieve public properties which may have been sold to private interests.”
The NLC noted that private individuals could build their refineries, but government must reactivate, maintain and take full charge of existing public refineries and also build new ones.