The Social-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) has moved to block the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari from selling public properties to fund the 2021 national budget.
The group in a letter addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly said rather than sell public assets, the salaries and allowances of lawmakers and other government officials should be slashed.
SERAP in its letter on Saturday addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said the government should look for other means to finance the budget as selling public properties to fund the 2021 budget will be counterproductive.
It added that if the plan is not reversed, a court action will be instituted against the government and the National Assembly will be joined in the suit.
The SERAP statement reads: “We’ve asked Dr. Ahmad Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila to stop President Buhari from selling public properties to fund the 2021 budget & to identify areas in the budget to cut such as salaries & allowances for members & the Presidency to address the growing level of deficit & borrowing.”
“The National Assembly has a constitutional and oversight responsibility to protect valuable public properties and to ensure a responsible budget spending.”
“Allowing the government to sell public properties, and to enjoy almost absolute discretion to borrow to fund the 2021 budget would amount to a fundamental breach of constitutional and fiduciary duties.”
“Selling valuable public properties to fund the 2021 budget would be counter-productive, as this would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. It would undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off, and hurt the country in the long run.”
“The country’s fiscal situation must be changed – and changed quickly – through some combination of cuts in spending on salaries and allowances, and a freeze on spending in certain areas of the budget like hardship and furniture allowances, entertainment allowances.”
“The time is now for the leadership of the National Assembly to stand up for the Nigerian people, stop the rush to sell public properties, push for a responsible budget, and support efforts to have the government spend responsibly.”
“We would consider the option of pursuing legal action to stop the Federal Government from selling public properties, and we may join the National Assembly in any such suit.”
It will be recalled Naija News had previously reported that President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has confirmed that it will sell some government-owned properties to fund the 2021 budget.
The federal government also disclosed that it will sell some non-oil assets to serve as an additional source of finance for the year’s budget.
The development was disclosed in a presentation made in Abuja by the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, to stakeholders about the signed 2021 budget.
The presentation, titled, ‘Public Presentation of 2021 FGN Approved Budget – Breakdown and Highlights’ was dated January 12.
This is coming a few days after the federal government of Nigeria disclosed that it is looking at borrowing from unclaimed dividends and dormant bank deposits to finance the 2021 budget.