•Nigeria should sell idle assets —Aregbesola •Selling national assets amount to auctioning Nigeria —Fayose
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and his Osun State counterpart, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, at a gathering in Ado Ekiti, at the weekend, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of Ekiti State, openly disagreed on the issue of sale of national assets.
At the interactive forum, which was part of the activities lined up to mark the 20th anniversary of the creation of Ekiti State, Aregbesola delivered a lecture entitled: “The imperative of unity.”
Aregbesola said the biting economic problem in the country was such that in the whole of the South-West region, only Lagos State could stand on its own, and therefore, suggested the sale of national assets, which he said, were idle.
Aregbesola also suggested that those assets he described as “functional” should be spared as one of the measures towards ending the economic recession.
He said we “should revive agriculture, especially food production,” saying “agriculture gives us raw materials for industries and aids, in no small measure, economic development. If we can improve on our productivity in food production through agriculture, we will eliminate hunger in our land.”
He added: “I want to urge all Nigerians on a concerted effort to end the ongoing vandalism of oil pipelines as the militants’ activities have been reducing the nation’s daily productivity level to between 700,000 to one million per barrel.
“The current vandalism of oil pipeline by the Niger Delta militants is robbing the nation of oil production of 700,000 to one million per barrel on daily basis. This amounts to a huge loss of oil revenue to the country and has further led to the current recession in the country. An urgent concerted effort is, therefore, needed to stop the vandalism.”
But Fayose rejected the idea of selling national assets and contended that selling off the nation’s assets amounted to auctioning Nigeria.
Fayose said: “I’m totally opposed to the sale of the national assets, as selling the national assets is like selling Nigeria at agive-away price.
“Selling our national assets simply amounts to auctioning Nigeria. If we sell the assets because the country is in recession, what would be left of Nigeria? What would we call our own? Selling of assets is like bringing the country more backward.
“If we sell the assets to finance this year’s budget, what would we sell next year? The Federal Government should look beyond its party and assemble economists and financial experts that would assist the president in his drive to bring the nation out of the present economic quagmire.”
Fayose also urged the Federal Government to uphold the principles of justice and equity, saying “justice is very important and without it, democracy is already endangered. If people are now beginning to contest against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies for manipulations of elections, then democracy is endangered. It is political parties that supposed to contest elections and not people contesting against inadequacies of the electoral umpire. A virile opposition is a veritable ingredient of democracy. The Federal Government should promote justice and the rule of law and ensure that justice is administered to all parties, irrespective of political affiliation.”
The Osun State governor praised Ekiti people as men of integrity and courage, and urged them to continue to unite in integrity and courage and support Governor Fayose for the development of the country.
“I congratulate with you, all Ekiti people, on the 20th anniversary of the creation of your state, my state, our state. You fought the Ekiti Parapo war which is an indication of unity of purpose. There is strength in unity.”
It is high time the Yoruba nation and, indeed, the South-West unite in terms of integrating our development strategies in education, commerce, economy, agriculture and tourism, among others.
“There is no reason why we should not unite for the best. The truth is that no Yoruba state, with the exception of Lagos State, can survive alone without collaborating with sister states. Therefore, we have to come together, pull together our abundant human and material resources.”
Explaining why he chose Aregbesola, a colleague from another political party as speaker for the occasion, Fayose said there was a dire need for the nation to remove the veil of politics and work together as a team to rescue the nation from current economic woes: “I took this decision that you should come instead of my colleague from my party because if we don’t take away the veil of politics and wear the armour of Nigeria, we would be wasting our time. I’ve personally visited you before and I’m glad you are also here.
“I want to caution that theory don’t amount to reality, Nigeria requires practical steps to surmount our challenges. If you examine critically the current trend in the country, Nigerians have begun to ask why don’t we go back to the time when Dollar used to be N200 to one and not N500 to one. They are beginning to ask questions why we are still using cuttlasses and hoes when we want to diversify. Why in 15 months of the current administration there has been no step taken to declare emergency in agriculture.
“All countries that I know, including the little Ghana, are all importing things that are important to their people. At this present time, we are nose-diving and not progressing because there have not been cogent steps taken by the Federal Government to effect a positive change.
“One important thing is that it is not about what we eat or wear, it is about leadership. It’s about the body language of the leaders. When our leaders go outside the country and brand us armed robbers, there are so many foreigners who want to invest in our economy but are afraid because of all these.
“In all countries of the world, when a new government comes into place, they bring together all views, opinions and parties, irrespective of their political party, to sit down and direct the affairs of the nation because the government is coming afresh and needs a lot of things to learn and gather before they can fully take control and build on the existing achievement.”