Snippets from his exclusive interview with THISDAY.
He said; if the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Company or any other national asset was offered to him, even on credit, he would not be interested in acquiring them.
According to him, he offered his proposal as a way out of Nigeria’s present economic recession because he is “a true Nigerian who really wants the issues about the economy to be sorted out”.
He added: “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.
“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.
Furthermore, Dangote argued that it is easier to borrow when you have substantive collateral, than going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank.
This, he reiterated, is because the “medicine” the World Bank and IMF would prescribe to Nigeria, “we might not be comfortable taking those types of drugs”.
“Today, anything you say in Nigeria is turned into politics. If you look at it, based on the plan, we had a production target of four million barrels per day by 2015, which we have never achieved. So, both in oil and also in gas, we have never been able to achieve the gas master plan, which we have had for years.
When he was reminded that Nigeria needs to boost it foreign reserves immediately and the sale of the assets could take much longer, possibly two years or more, to be concluded, Dangote disagreed, stating: “No, let me tell you something, some of these assets that we are talking about, the oil companies would pay immediately.”
He also held the view that low oil price environment and militancy in the Niger Delta would not deter investors from acquiring the assets if they are offered for sale.
“They would pay, people are still investing. It is only here that people are not investing. For example, we (Dangote Group) still went ahead and bought our own oil block. We just closed the deal in July.
“So it depends on how you manage the situation. The benefit to those buying is that they now have majority stake, so that they would be able to fund the operation, rather than waiting for cash calls.
he stressed that what the economy requires at the moment is liquidity, adding that for policy makers to be able to achieve that, “we have to fire on all cylinders.”
He explained: “If we can get the loan, fine. But we have to get something, whether it is through loans, debts or even the sale of assets. There are lots of friendly countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and others that have the capacity to give us money. But they would hasten to give us money when they see that we are doing something.
“When you have assets, you can raise money on your own without doing anything. You see, it is easier for me to go and tell somebody that my flour or sugar business is on sale and that I am negotiating their sale, and that the person should give me money so that I can bridge a funding gap.