The Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project ( SERAP) has called on the National Assembly to as a matter of national importance to do all within its constitutional powers to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from selling off Federal Government properties to fund the 2021 Appropriation Act.
SERAP also appealed to the Federal Legislature to as a matter of national interest and importance stop approving loan requests by the Federal Government if it continues to fail to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained.
According to SERAP,the National Assembly has constitutional and oversight responsibility to protect valuable public properties as well as ensure responsible budget spending.
It noted that 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 jiducial duties.
These were contained in a statement issued on Sunday, 17 January, by Deputy Director of SERAP, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, in which the organisation urged the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to prevent the President from carrying out such moves.
SERAP particularly wants the National Assembly to urgently review the 2021 appropriation legislation with a view to stop the government of President Muhammadu Buhari from selling public properties to fund the 2021 budget.
It urged the leadership of the National Assembly to identify areas in the 2021 budget to cut such as salaries and allowances of members and the Presidency in order to make savings to address the growing level of deficit and borrowing.
SERAP further warned that selling valuable public properties to fund the 2021 budget would be counter-productive, adding that this would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement and particularly undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off, and hurt the country in the long run.
SERAP said; “It is neither necessary nor in the public interest.”
It therefore called for a change in the country’s fiscal situation through some combination of cuts in spending on salaries and allowances, and a freeze on spending in certain areas of the budget such as hardship and furniture allowances, entertainment allowances, international travels, and buying of motor vehicles and utilities for members of the parliament and the Presidency.
According to SERAP; “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.
“The budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services and will hurt future generations. If not urgently addressed, the 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 grimmest of conditions.
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international human rights obligations including under 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 added
Culled from Forefront News