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SERAP Urges NASS To Stop Buhari From Selling Govt Properties

The Socioeconomic Rights and Responsibility Project (SERAP) has urged the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, to “urgently review the appropriation legislation for the 2021 budget, and identify areas in the budget to cut, such as salaries and allowances for members and the Presidency to make statements to address the growing level of deficits and indebtedness. “

Finance Minister Ms Zainab Ahmed reportedly confirmed last week that the federal government would sell some government-owned properties to fund the 2021 budget. This is on top of the government’s growing indebtedness to fund the budget as well.

In a letter dated January 16, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The National Assembly has a constitutional and oversight responsibility to protect valuable public property and ensure responsible budgetary spending. Allowing the government to sell public property and enjoying near-absolute discretion to borrow to finance the 2021 budget would amount to a fundamental breach of constitutional and fiduciary duties. “SERAP said: “Selling valuable public properties to finance the 2021 budget would be counterproductive, as this would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. It would undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off and damage the country in the long run. It is neither necessary nor in the public interest. “

According to the organization: “The country’s fiscal situation must be changed, and changed quickly, through a combination of cuts in spending on salaries and allowances, and a spending freeze on certain areas of the budget, such as deprivation and furniture allowances, allowances for entertainment. , international travel and purchase of motor vehicles and public services for the members and the Presidency ”.

The letter read in part: “The time has come for the leadership of the National Assembly to stand up for the Nigerian people, stop the rush to sell public property, push for a responsible budget and support efforts for the government to spend responsibly. “

“Other areas to propose cuts include: voters subsidy, clothing subsidy, recess subsidy and entertainment subsidy.”

“SERAP urges the National Assembly to immediately work with the Presidency to fix the current damaging budget process and address systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies. [MDAs]. Addressing corruption in the MDAs and reducing waste, salaries, and assignments for high-ranking public officials would go a long way toward addressing budget deficits and debt problems. “

“SERAP also urges the National Assembly to stop approving loan applications from the Federal Government if it still does not demonstrate transparency and accountability in spending the loans obtained so far.”

“The current level of indebtedness is unsustainable, which means that the National Assembly under his leadership can play an important role in limiting how much the government can borrow as a whole. The National Assembly must urgently seek guarantees and a written commitment from President Buhari on his government’s plan to control the country’s debt problem. “

“We would consider the option of taking legal action to prevent the Federal Government from selling public property, and we can join the National Assembly in such a lawsuit.”

“The budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services and will harm future generations. If not addressed urgently, deficit and debt problems would seriously undermine access to public goods and services for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, who continue to endure the harshest conditions. “

“Our requests are in the public interest and in accordance with the requirements of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution [as amended], the country’s international human rights obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Nigeria has ratified both human rights treaties ”.

“SERAP notes that the N13.58 billion budget for fiscal year 2021 signed by President Buhari on December 31, 2020, is approximately N505 billion higher than the proposed budget in October 2020. According to reports, the government plans to borrow N5.6 billion from domestic and foreign resources to finance the 2021 budget ”.

“Deficit and debt problems can be solved immediately if the National Assembly can exercise its constitutional and fiduciary duties to press for cuts in the salaries and allowances of members and the president and vice president, and by transparency and accountability of accounts in the expense of loans. obtained by the government. “

“We hope that the above will help guide your actions to prevent the government from selling public property to finance the 2021 budget, propose cuts in salaries and assignments of high-ranking government officials, propose cuts in waste and corruption in MDA, as well as guarantee the transparency and accountability of government loan spending. We would be happy to discuss any of these recommendations with you in more detail. “

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