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SERAP urges National Assembly to stop sale of government properties

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently review the 2021 appropriation legislation to stop President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration from selling public properties to fund the 2021 budget.

SERAP also urged them to identify areas in the budget to cut, such as salaries and allowances for members and the Presidency, to save funds to address the growing level of deficit and borrowing.

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According to SERAP, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed had last week reportedly confirmed that the Federal Government would sell some-government-owned properties to fund the 2021 budget. This is in addition to the government’s growing borrowing also to fund the same budget.

In a letter dated January 16, 2021, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group said: “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. It is neither necessary nor in the public interest,” the letter stated.

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SERAP added that the country’s fiscal situation must be quickly changed 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 and the Presidency.

“The time is now for the leadership of the National Assembly to stand up Nigerians, stop the rush to sell public properties, push for a responsible budget, and support efforts to have the government spend responsibly.
“Other areas to propose cutting include constituency allowance, wardrobe allowance, recess allowance, and entertainment allowance,” SERAP said.

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