Aliko Dangote, president of of Dangote Group, says if the federal government offers to sell the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to him on credit, he is not interested.
Reacting to the criticisms that have trailed his advocacy for the sale of national assets, Dangote told THISDAY that his proposal was borne out of the desire to see Nigeria get out of the current economic recession.
In an interview with CNBC Africa, the billionaire had said the government would be able to raise between $12 billion and $15 billion from the sale of the company.
“If I had challenges in my company, I would not hesitate to sell assets, to remain afloat, to get to the better times, because it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep any assets and then suffocate the whole organisation,” he had said.
“The African Finance Corporation… it can fetch them $800 million easily. My own suggestion before was that they should even sell 100 percent of NLNG. I don’t think government should be in any business of investing in sectors of LNG.
“A company like that, with earnings of $1.5 billion on the average, they should get anywhere between $12 billion and $15 billion.”
The comment had generated reactions, with some saying the billionaire was interested in buying the company.
But Dangote waved aside the criticisms, saying he offered the suggestions as “a true Nigerian who really wants the issues about the economy to be sorted out”.
“You know the issue, once your reserves are low, the banks, entrepreneurs, including external forces, would definitely attack your currency. They would speculate on your currency,” he said.
“We all know that the exchange rate of almost N500 to the dollar is not a true reflection of the value of the currency – the naira cannot be almost N500 to the dollar!
“But you see, if this thing is not handled properly, it can get out of hand. It can get to N600 to the dollar, or even N700 to the dollar.
“But the issue is, why did I suggest that we should sell some of the assets? I know the touchy one is the NLNG. I want to make it categorically clear that even if the government is selling NLNG on credit, I am not interested in buying.
“I don’t have any interest in NLNG and I will not buy it. It is not a business that I want to invest in. It is a mature business; that is what people don’t understand.
“You see, we should have invested heavily in all these Brass LNG, Olokola LNG, etc, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo started work on the projects, but we missed the opportunity.
“Today, you have massive LNG projects that have been done by Qatar, Australia and the United States is also exporting. But right now, all the gas that we have is even in the ground. Even Mozambique has a massive amount of gas and also Tanzania, and they are nearer to the markets than we are.
“So, if somebody is even going to invest in LNG, he would go to those areas and invest there and not here in Nigeria, because the investment here is daunting. So my own suggestion is that even if we must sell, it doesn’t have to be 100 per cent of our interest in NLNG.”