Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has supported the federal government proposal to flip the NLNG and other public assets by describing the policy as natural in the effort to buffer the shock of the current recession.
But he advised they must not fall into the hand of cabals, and the process must be transparent.
“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,” said Obasanjo. “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.”
He said this while delivering a goodwill message at the opening session of a two-day National Council of Finance and Economic Development conference (in partnership with the finance ministry) held at the Green Legacy Resort, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, on Tuesday.
Obasanjo, who said he foresaw the economic meltdown two years ago when he gave a lecture at the 80th birthday ceremony of Justice Mustapha Akanbi on 26th November, 2014, also advised the federal government to spend less than the country was earning, fashion out ways to earn more revenue and borrow.
“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.
He also added that Nigeria should approach those that will lend with reasonable interest, suggesting the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“I don’t say we must not go to them. When I was in government, I never say 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,” he said.
He said that Nigeria must encourage production to earn more and increase its revenues, especially by diversifying the economy since the nation is not in control of oil prices.
The former president expressed confidence in the ability of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, saying that “she is doing a marvellous job in a difficult situation and that only time can prove her right.”
Adeosun said the Federal Government had till date invested over N700bn to stimulate growth in the economy.
The host, Gov. Ibikunle Amosun, and Gombe’s Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo, promised to tell the other 34 state governors to buy into the outcomes of the conference.
Speaking earlier at the opening session of the third edition of the World Pension Summit (Africa Special) in Abuja on Tuesday, Obasanjo had said his advice to governors to save for the rainy days when he was leading the country between 1999 and 2007 was ignored.
He added that if his suggestion had been implemented back then, the country would have fallen back on such savings at this time of recession.