Nigerian groups warn Buhari over plan to sale national assets
Comrade Yusuf Zambuk, the general secretary, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Service Employees (right); Comrade Benjamin Anthony, president of AUPCTRE; Akinbode Oluwafemi, chieftain of ERA\FoEN; and Achike Chudi of Joint Action Front, at a press confrence in Lagos on Tuesday.
The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Service Employees (AUPCTRE), Joint Action Congress and other civil society organisations on Tuesday December 19, 2017, warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of Nigeria to desist on its plan to sale some of the nation’s historical assets to fund the 2018 budget.
The Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, recently told the House of Representatives Committee on Finance and Appropriation that the Federal Government had concluded plans to sell the Tafawa Balewa Square and the National Arts Theatre to generate sufficient revenue to finance the country’s annual budgets for the next three years (2018-2020).
While addressing the press in Lagos, the groups were united in their opposition against the scheme and insisted that the plan was not in the best interest of Nigerians.
President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, said: “The move is unacceptable and we urge all well-meaning Nigerians to stand up against it. It is a selfish move and we cannot stand and watch our heritage sold off in our time.
“You cannot sell the people’s heritage; and our union and I know, Nigerians will resist it. Government needs to increase the asset base not to sale our collective heritage. We must rise against this leadership failure because it is not the change Nigerians asked for.
“If they accept they cannot generate revenue unless they sell our heritage what will they sell in 2020 to generate money to finance the budget? Are they no longer selling crude oil? Is the Customs no longer generating funds? Is the ports no longer working? Is the Federal Inland Service no longer performing their duties?”
He said the assets sold during privatisation era were purchased by the same politicians at ridiculous prices, alleging that they will do the same if Nigerians allow them.
Also, Yusuf Zambuk, the general secretary of AUPCTRE said that the concept of funding national budget from sales of public assets was a strange phenomenon in public administration, particularly in budgeting.
Zambuk pointed out that national historical assets have immense cultural significance to the nation, especially now that the Federal Government is focusing more on economic diversification.
He listed the affected historical assets to include National Arts Theatre Iganmu, Lagos; Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos and others.
He said that AUCPTRE was concerned about the issue because the union had its origin from patriotic struggles of organizing workers employed in most public agencies such as National Arts Theatre.
“When President Buhari came to power in 2015, his government made a statement that historical assets will not be sold for any reason to any private interest.
“The stand of government was widely supported by the generality of Nigerians in particular and by all patriotic Nigerians.
“We can therefore, not rationalize the changes in government policy, in particular on sales of public assets to fund annual budget.
While saying that it was only the prodigal son that sells his father’s property, Zambuk pointed out that in United Kingdom such national assets are revered.
Other speakers at the occasion including Comrade Ayodele Akele, Achike Chude (Joint Action Front), Akinbode Oluwafemi (ERA\FoEN) condemned the move to sell the nation’s assets, asking the Buhari-led government to look inwards and rescind the proposal.