Following calls by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, advising the Federal Government to sell-off some public utilities to bail the country out of the biting economic recession, the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, has disagreed, saying such a call was absolutely uncalled for and worrisome.
The CLO in a statement on Thursday, by its Executive Director, Ibuchukwu Ezike, warned the National Assembly against such move, stating that politicians must not take the patience of agonizing, wailing and impoverished Nigerians for granted.
The statement read: “The attention of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has been drawn to the call by the President of the Senate, Dr. Olusola Saraki, on the Federal Government to sell off public utilities in their search for an answer to bail the ailing economy.
“The Senate President made the call in his welcome address to the Senators on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, at the Senate Chambers, Abuja.
“Earlier, Mr. Aliko Dangote had made similar call before the Senate President. As the National Assembly reconvenes and resumes discussions on the alternative to the current economic recession bedeviling Nigeria, CLO cautions the NASS and the entire national government to completely reject this call.
“CLO urges the NASS to pass a Resolution directing President Buhari not to sell any public utilities built with tax payers’ money. The call for the sale of public utilities is absolutely uncalled for and worrisome.
“We warn the politicians not to take the patience of agonizing, wailing and impoverished Nigerians for granted.
“CLO urges the law makers and, indeed, the national government to look elsewhere for the solutions to the economic crisis facing Nigeria. In view of the above, we recommend the following options:- Huge cut in the cost of running government, including reduction of aides, wages/salaries and allowance packages for both politicians and workers in the executive and legislative arms of government and across all the tiers of government.
“Implement the Recommendations of the Nigerian Labour Movement on the boosting of the National economy.
“Begin immediate debate and implementation of the Report of the 2014 National Conference that points the positive way forward for Nigeria in all sectors and directions.
“Running Nigeria like a cult in lopsided fashion does not stimulate patriotism and encourage citizens to give their best. It takes after a process where “monkey dey work and baboon de chop.”
“Doing this will make the states financially buoyant as they would exploit resources that abound in their territories and powers and resources to the federating units devolved. This will make our states financially stable and stop a process of states running to Abuja caps in hands begging for bailouts and all that.”
The statement further advised government to “revisit the prodigal 2016 National Budget which provides more for the thieving politicians and their associates than for the country and her citizens.
“Drop the war song in the Niger Delta and initiate immediate peaceful discussions with the justly aggrieved youth whose environment has been grossly polluted, denigrated and despoiled. A genuine plan of radically rehabilitating, rebuilding and developing the region made. We are sure that if peace is restored in the region, Nigeria will mine the oil and raise money to address the recession and put Nigeria back to life.
“Invoke and strengthen the Oversight function mechanisms and adequately monitor true and honest execution of the 2016 budget to ensure absolute compliance with the Appropriation Law.
“Open our borders to allow the importation of essential foods for domestic uses pending when Nigeria has been able to produce enough food to feed our people.
“Revisit the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and either modify it to help address the crisis it has created or suspend it pending when our ugly situation improves, and;
“That government stops anchoring the success of Nigeria on the misleading reports and praise of foreign leaders and imperial institutions and media but on the happiness of the Nigerian people.”
The CLO said it salutes the statesmanly speeches of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and other Senators who opposed the call by the Senate President on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
Adding that “We condemn, in its entirety, Dangote and Emir of Kano, Ahaji Sanusi Lamido’s, support for the sale of our hard earned property to themselves and allies and warn that CLO and other civil society organisations in alliance with the labour movements will mobilise Nigerians against any such attempt to sell our national utilities to selves and fronts.
“We note that it is regrettable that while Nigerians are committing suicide, wives are running out of their matrimonial homes against their wishes as a result of unbearable hardship, intelligent pupils from indigent homes are being withdrawn from schools for lack of money to assist them run their programmes and citizens are feeding from the refuse dumps and dieing of curable ailments as a result of poverty, our politicians are living ostentatious lives.
“Lastly, CLO shares with the excruciating pains and hardship of the Nigerian masses and ask them to gear up for mass actions in the event that the rulers of our country refuse to take immediate genuine actions and steps to restore hope to our people.
May a stitch in time save us nine.”