By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA – Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has faulted plans by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to sell off some national assets to fund the 2019 budget, describing the move as fiscally irresponsible.
On Monday, President Buhari accused past PDP leaders of failing to build public infrastructure, while delivering the 75th Anniversary Business lecture of the Island Club, Lagos.
In a response by the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization, APCO, the former Vice President said it is an irony that some of the assets listed for sale in the policy document of the Buhari Administration, were assets built or established under the PDP administrations that governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, saying some of them were his brain child.
“If the PDP did not build infrastructure, as alleged by President Buhari, who built these assets that this administration wants to sell to fund their 2019 budget?
“As head of the Economic Management Committee during the (Olusegun) Obasanjo administration, Atiku supervised the successful policy of privatisation.
“Privatisation works because it is a long-term strategy to engender efficiency in the economic system and expand the frontiers of private sector activity. Its primary goal is NOT to raise money for short term stabilization of what is clearly a fragile fiscal system. The government’s planned sale of assets will cause long term pains and only provide short term gains,” a statement from APCO on Wednesday read.
The campaign organization said it made no sense “to sell public assets simply to fund a ‘business-as-usual’ budget that is essentially 70% recurrent.
“It is irresponsible to part with valuable assets simply to consume the proceeds (Like selling your family house to take a trip overseas on holiday).
“We knew that such a day would come, which is why Atiku has on various occasions made it clear that what is needed at this time is fiscal restructuring to eliminate our addiction to oil revenues and strengthen our internal revenue generating capacity and a restructuring of the budget in favour of capital spending.”
Atiku said only last month, he questioned the wisdom behind government’s sharing of $322 million Abacha loot to certain Nigerians, only to obtain a $328 million loan from China, allegedly for Iinformation and Ccommunication Technology, ICT, development.
“Rather than share that money,” he continued, “the Buhari administration ought to have put that $322 million in an escrow account to be used for funding the 2019 budget.
“We recall that $43 million was found in an Ikoyi apartment. While we note the failed promise of the Buhari administration to come clean on who was behind those monies, we make bold to say that those funds should equally have been placed in escrow for use in funding the 2019 budget.”