AN APPRAISAL OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION LAW AND POLICY IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Problem
A global trend has emerged aimed at reducing government‘s involvement in the economy. This global trend came about through the process of privatisation or both privatisation and commercialisation of government owned enterprises. In Nigeria, as part of its programmes of National Economic Reforms, the Federal Government introduced privatisation along with commercialisation. Thus, commercialisation was conceived as an alternative to privatisation in some cases. That is to say, commercialisation was introduced as an alternative to privatisation which was deemed inappropriate.
The reasons offered for this economic policy vary from country to country. For example, in Britain it was resorted to as ―an ideologically based program, devised and driven by a powerful leader, motivated by a combination of intellectual conviction of the benefits of free markets and hatred of the power of organised labour‖. In some jurisdictions, commercialisation is not used in the same context as it is being used in Nigeria. Thus in Jurisdiction like South Africa, it is believed that commercialisation is one of the phases of privatisation. Hence, it was submitted that ―the entity should first be corporatized, then commercialized, but in South Africa, Privatisation was perceived, and thus, embraced as a veritable instrument in the restructuring of its troubled economy. This is in tandem with reasons given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which universalized the programme as a key element in economic restructuring of distressed economies especially in Africa. Hence, Privatisation and Commercialisation became components of structural adjustment program of the IMF.
In Nigeria, and in most countries of Africa, interest in the program is motivated by the desire to correct past failures of development policies and reduce money losing trends of government owned enterprises. The programme of privatisation and commercialisation became imperative with the national aspiration to strike a balance between political independence and economic independence. This reason is apt since a country with political independence devoid of economic independence will not thrive. For any country in the world to survive and develop, the duo of political and economic independence must co-exist side by side. The political stability of every country depends largely on its sound economic policies, growth and development.
The foregoing economic background, paved way leading to privatisation and commercialisation law and policy in Nigeria in 1988,as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of General Ibrahim Babangida‘s Administration. This law established the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialization (TCPC) to implement and oversee the privatisation programme. SAP is a neo-liberal development strategy by international financial institution to incorporate national economy into global market. This has been summarized thus:
The vision of a ‗global market civilization‘ has been reinforced by the policies of the major institutions of global economic government… up to the mid 1990s underlying the structural adjustment programs has been a new liberal development strategy referred to as the Washington consensus which prioritizes the opening up of national economies to global market force and the requirement for the limited government intervention in the management of the economy.