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2021 budget
President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2021 budget to the National Assembly.

…demand use of recovered loots, declared revenue to implement the budget

By Gabriel Ewepu, ABUJA

AS Nigerian and Nigerians grapple with economic recession and second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Monday, disagreed and condemned the alleged move by the Federal Government to sell public assets to implement 2021 budget.

While speaking with Vanguard they pointed out that the move is ill-conceived and will be an action to totally collapse the ailing economy, and added that the impact of borrowing that has seriously affected the economy with inflation reaching over 15 per cent, unemployment on the rise on daily basis, businesses folding up and leaving the country, the Naira being devalued, and crime on the rise.

Further speaking demanded that the government should have alternative ways to fund the budget and not asset sale because 2022 will soon be another budget year, which they asked what will be sold to implement it?

However, they called on National Assembly to rise to the occasion to stop the Buhari-led administration from the sale of public assets to fund 2021 budget, particularly on the current debt profile of the country, biting economic recession, future of Nigerians, the possibility of mismanagement and looting of proceeds and added that it is not in the best interest of Nigerians.

Sale of public assets won’t solve any problem-Global Rights

The Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, said, “The Minister’s statement is troubling, and it is one in a recent trend of desperate moves including, borrowing from pensions, and then taking over dormant accounts and shares. We should be concerned and ask salient questions: first, is the nation so broke that it has to resort to the selling off assets to augment its current budget?

“Second, will the funding of this budget through these unethical and desperate measures proposed by the government, generate sufficient revenues to fund subsequent years?

“The assets referred to are vague. The vagueness of this process may be a pointer to state capture which will benefit ‘friends of the regime’ but not Nigerians. In addition, what happens after 2021? Will they sell the nation and its citizens?

“I think its implications are visible on the surface of it: that it is not a smart move and will only further impoverish the nation. When you sell your assets to meet needs, it’s often indicative of deeper challenges and is a pointer that you are unable to think of more ingenious ways of deriving revenues.

“How fast will these assets sell, and in its desperation will the government get a good bargain? If in 2021, these assets sold do not produce a tangible and sustainable income stream for 2022 and beyond, you can be sure that the delivery of public services will fail, our weak institutions will be further incapacitated, insecurity will be heightened, the cost of goods and services will escalate, and yes – hunger will drive people to the streets.

“It is better the protests start now before the asset sales happen, after which the protests will be more uncontrolled with greater frustrations driving them. My advice is for the government to be more ingenious in its revenue quest. They need to cut down frivolous government expenses.

“Reduce the number of political dependents; curb the ostentatious lifestyles of politicians – including the national assembly.  Stimulate the economy by spending towards boosting entrepreneurship among citizens. In particular, boost agriculture to ensure quick and sustainable wins, promote exports and feed a starving population.

FG’s pushing economy towards total collapse-CISLAC

The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Awual Rafsanjani, said, “This is not a good move by the Federal Government because we have been advising the government to plug leakages and waste, and a lot of diversion of public funds has been going on but the government seems not to take drastic measures to at least minimize diversion of public funds and assets.

“Therefore we need to ensure that the country does not entirely collapse. The government needs to do everything possible to block leakages and there are many other measures the government should have taken.

“If these assets are sold now what guarantee do you have to fund next year’s budget? It is a very wrong idea by the officials of the Buhari-led administration to embark on selling the remaining assets of Nigerians. This is absolutely condemnable.

“If they claim that they have recovered loots from looters why can’t they use the recovered loots to finance the budget? Why can they use the increased revenue they have generated to finance the budget?

“I think there is a need for the government to be sincere and honest. This lack of honesty and sincerity in communication from this government to Nigerians is further creating a disconnect and mistrust of whatever government is coming up with.

“Nigerians are suspicious and sceptical about every move by this government because it has not demonstrated sincerity and honesty because it has not shown any commitment toward the socio-economic and political crisis Nigerians find themselves.

“This is not really good for the country for even some of the officials who are committed and patriotic and that are why they need to speak out and tell them the truth. If you keep quiet and allow the country to sink God will not also spare you because God gave you the opportunity but you failed to do the needful.

“We in civil society are not anti-government but want the government to work’ we want the government to be transparent and accountable, Nigerians people to be happy with their government and what is obtainable in the country.

“We cannot allow only to do campaign and propaganda, get into office and use that to continue to amass wealth at the expense of the Nigerian people. That is no longer acceptable. National Assembly must rise up to their responsibility and above partisan politics and ensure they don’t support this move.

“With the use of security and excessive use of force on Nigerians for only legitimate protest and disagreement on what government is doing I am not sure if Nigerians are ready to allow themselves to be killed by people who are out there to eliminate them for expressing their contrary opinion on what government wants.

“So as it is now many Nigerians will continue to express their dissatisfaction, anger but they would not likely come out and be killed because there is no accountability in Nigeria, and if people kill others nobody cautions them.

“We have reached a state that Nigerians have lost confidence that they will be protected if they come out to express their opinion which is constitutionally and legally allowed.

“So, if the government has been very strict in terms of minimizing waste, duplication, outright looting of public funds and assets we will not be crying the way we are crying as a nation.

“Secondly, it shows that government does not have a plan ‘B’ to mitigate the crisis we have been having if there was the excuse of the first tenure of Buhari’s administration in terms of the economic situation, I think the government can no longer give any excuses in this second tenure because there should have been a concrete plan ‘B’ to mitigate the economic recession or situation.

“This government was telling Nigerians that it has a blueprint in terms of economic recovery. Where is the plan? Or why has it not been implemented? Because if it was implemented we would be able to mitigate and deal with the crisis we are facing economically as a nation, which means that there has not been consistency in the policy framework of government in terms of economic diversification, rehabilitation, effective strategy that will enable the country to overcome the crisis we are facing.

“The third issue is that going by the culture of selling public assets how sure are we that within this space of few months we will be able to sell public assets in the best interest of Nigerians?

‘The previous assets sold including the assets of NEPA and we were told some individuals bought those assets and up till today, they are not useful to Nigerians. There is still no electricity supply to Nigerians. The privatization process is not transparent and lacks accountability.

“What assurance is the government giving to Nigerians in the privatisation or selling off of public assets in terms of transparency and accountability? The government should be careful not to set a very bad record as a government that came with all sorts of promises and hope for the Nigerian economy, only for it only to end up in these numerous and scandalous borrowing.

“We have borrowed enough and these borrowings have not been able to help rejuvenate the economy; unemployment is still on the living condition is very poor, insecurity despite all these promises and commitment made.

“Fourthly, with the coming of COVID-19 pandemic which has affected global economy because Nigeria is not having any plan to mitigate the economic crisis as a result if COVID-19 the country is sinking again, we are now in another recession.”

Not surprising, Nigerians should expect more-CN

The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Prince Deji Adeyanju said, “From the word go, this government has shown that it lacks ideas, waste the government has been engaging, making all sorts of promises because a broke and bankrupt country cannot run socialism –to markets to share money for free to people, a government that cannot account for donations by nations for the COVID-19 pandemic, these monies were embezzled in the name of sharing palliatives, a government that has looted the Abacha loot, borrowed and looted the loans, squandered our foreign reserve, subsidy intervention funds, and all kinds of funds, even stolen from the ‘dead’ and also threatened to go borrow from the ‘dead’.

“Nigerians should expect more because the Buhari government is going to collapse the economy entirely, and this is my prediction for 2021 and 2022 as we are going to see more of recession under this government. So this should not come as a shock or surprise to anyone that the government wants to sell public assets to fund the budget.

“After selling assets to fund 2021 budget where will they get money to fund next year’s budget? It’s just a shame!”

Worst initiative to implement the budget, Presidency well done-OLF

The social crusader and founder, One Love Foundation, OLF, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “When the head stops thinking, it will start stinking. We should take note that soon there will be nothing to sell again but the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria instead of providing Nigerians with access to good things of life you people in a government they elected are clamouring to get the infrastructure in place through budgetary allocation and at the same time seeking to sell the existing ones that is not enough and to who? May I ask, with due respect, foreigners? I guess.

“I think a letter of apology should go to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (GCON) for all the insults on the statement he made during his campaign before the 2019 presidential election of selling the NNPC as a starting point of his administration.

“As a good visionary leader, sale of national assets to fund national budget, who are the economic team sending this type of deadly signal? I hope Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill is not included?

“This is the worst initiatives I have ever come across in my years of existence. Truly common sense is not common. Confusion has no father and mother. Seek for the way forward for your will paper budgetary allocation.”

Govt just want to enslave Nigerians-JUGSODI

The Chief Executive Officer, CEO and Founder, Just Global Social Development Initiative, JUGSODI, Yarima Adu Charles, said, “This move is to enslave Nigerians and the future of our children that it should not be heard of.

“Where are the recovered looted funds EFCC and the Nigerian government claimed to have recovered? This is the time Nigerians need the money use it now.

“Place every political elected and appointed the officer on allowances only on their sitting days to make their jobs part-time and pay them for such so that huge money spending on politicians can be used to finance other critical projects and programs in 2021 budget

“Investigate COVID -19 money claim to have spent both for the national and states to generate the true account of their stewardship and use any unused money remaining or diverted  into personal pockets it is Nigeria money and so it should be used for the benefits of all.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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