Senior Advocate of Nigeria

Lawyers have urged the Federal Government not to sell income-yielding assets in order to exit recession.

Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem (SAN) and Dr. Paul Ananaba (SAN) advised the government to sell only dormant assets that are costing the country money to maintain.

They said suggestions that the government should sell off assets such as the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) or refineries were not in the country’s best interest.

Adetola- Kaseem said: “When you talk of sale of assets, there are two types of assets involved: economic and non-economic assets. Economic assets are investments that are yielding income to the country; they are commercial in nature, for instance our investment in Nigerian Natural Liquefied Gas (NNLG), or the refineries.

“To talk of selling that off in order to fund the economy, I think it’s myopic, because that is like selling the goose that lays the golden egg. It won’t make any sense to sell them off.

“We haven’t been able to refine enough products to meet our local demand over so many years, we have been importing fuel into the country unashamedly even as the largest producer of crude oil.

“So, I don’t think it is correct to sell off assets that are yielding income to the country, or projecting a good image of the country.”

He said the sale of national carrier, Nigeria Airways, for instance, had belittled the country’s image.

“We need to ask these questions. If these assets are sold, how much are we likely to generate? How long will it take us to spend it? When we have exhausted all we made from the sale, where do we go from there, when our problems have not been solved?

“If we are talking of selling off part of the Presidential Fleet of, as it is alleged, 11 aircraft to earn some income, then, fine; but not to sell off assets that are generating income or are likely to project our image positively or increase our productive capacity.

“So, sale of economic assets? No. But dormant assets that are not yielding income, that are wasting away such as aircraft in the Presidential Fleet or houses that we’re spending money to maintain should be disposed of,” Adetola- Kaseem said.

Ananaba said: “I’m in support of sale of assets of the government, but not a blanket sale. The assets of the government should be appraised, those that are no longer necessary to be held by the government can be sold, balancing the need for government to play its role under the constitution, of securing life and property and the welfare of the citizens.

“In some of the assets, government needs to divest considerably and the government must carry the people along as to the assets that’ll be sold, commercialised or that it wishes to divest from, in a transparent, patriotic manner that will be in the country’s best interest.

“Finally, we should ensure that it is not done as perceived before i.e. merely to transfer government assets into the private hands of friends of government officials and party loyalists and all that.”

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