Senators calling for sale of Nigeria's Assets plan to buy them – Falana Warns

Respected human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has kicked against suggestions that Nigeria should sell off its national assets to raise funds for the country’s ailing economy.

Nigeria’s business mogul and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, had suggested that the federal government should sell off some national assets like the multi-billion dollar NLNG, and use the proceeds to pull the country from the current economic recession.

Dangote’s suggestion, backed by notable figures like Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, has generated intense debates among Nigerians...

In his reaction, Falana (SAN) told PT that the suggestion was “in total conflict with section 16 of the (Nigerian) Constitution which has prohibited the concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of a few people or a group.

“Indeed, by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution, the nation’s natural resources shall be held in trust for the Nigerian people by the federal government.”

Falana said that senators would have been expected to kick against Dangote’s suggestion, since they had sworn to protect the constitution. “But for selfish considerations, a few legislators who may be queuing up to participate in the purchase of the nation’s assets are not prepared to defend the Constitution.

“If the senate is genuinely desirous to contribute meaningfully to the debate on the economy, it should, as a matter of urgency, propose a substantial reduction in the jumbo emoluments of federal legislators which are said to be the highest in the world.”

Falana said the country’s privatization programme in the past was discovered to be a rip off on the nation and the people, but that nothing was done about it, despite a senate resolution, under the leadership of David Mark, that the government should recover such assets.

“Many other properties of the federal government in Abuja, Lagos and other cities were under many public officers and their cronies. Apart from the recovery of the NET building in Lagos which was sold to the father of a legislator for N4billon instead of the market value of N75billion, the sale of the other 531 properties of Nitel and other agencies of the federal government located in the various parts of the country have not been accounted for.”