By Victor Ahiuma-Young
AMALGAMATED Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Service Employees, AUPCTRE, has expressed shock over the Federal Government plan to sell some national historical assets, contending that no nation’s sells its history.
This came as workers stormed the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, protesting the proposed its sale and other national monuments.
The aggrieved workers who besieged the National Theatre on Tuesday displayed several placards with various inscriptions to express their rejection of the planned sale of national assets.
Some of the placards read: “National Theatre can work, we need repairs and not sale. The theatre community says no to sale of the theatre. National Theatre must stay. “Government wants to sell our culture, it is a shame. No, No, National Theatre must stay.”
They blamed the sorry state of the 40-year-old monument on deliberate negligence and corruption by successive managers.
It will be recalled that the Director-General of Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, told the House of Representatives Committee on Finance and Appropriation on Nov. 28, that the Federal Government had concluded plans to sell the Tafawa Balewa Square and the National Arts Theatre.
The aim, he said, is to generate sufficient revenue to finance the country’s annual budgets for the next three years (2018-2020).
Speaking during the protest, Mr Dayo Akogun, Branch Chairman, AUPCTRE, said the workers rejected the planned sale of the theatre, lamenting that corruption and bad management were the responsible for the present state of the edifice.
According to him: “If the challenges in the system are tackled, the National Theatre can work effectively and generate funds. We need managers that will help us attract patronage rather than promote its sale.”
Also, Mr Dare Durosimi, Lagos State Chairman, Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria, RATTAWU, said government should rather tackle challenges affecting the monument instead of its sale.
He noted that RATTAWU was not in support of the proposed sale and would support AUPCTRE’s decision to campaign against it.
Meanwhile, according to AUPCTRE, the proposed sale of national historical assets to fund the 2018 budget, will be a disservice to the founding fathers of the country and future generation, begging President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison the idea and look for other means to fund the budget.
Speaking through Mr Yusuf Zambuk, the General Secretary, in a statement in Abuja, AUPCTRE, said the concept of funding national budget from sales of public assets was a “strange phenomenon in public administration”, particularly in budgeting.
According to him, national historical assets had immense and cultural significance to the nation, especially now that the Federal Government was focusing more on economic diversification.
AUPCTRE General Secretary named affected historical assets to include the National Arts Theatre Iganmu, Lagos, and Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos among others. He said AUCPTRE was worried because the union had its origin from patriotic struggles of organising workers employed in most public agencies such as the National Arts Theatre.
The General Secretary said: “Our attention has been drawn to the decision of the Federal Government to sell some National Historical Assets to fund the 2018 budget presently before the National Assembly. If the information is true, it is a strange phenomenon. 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.