By Williams Orji
*Asks National Assembly to stop action
*Suggests cut of salary, allowances of top officials
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to stop President Buhari from selling public properties to fund the 2021 budget.
SERAP tasked the government to cut salaries and allowances of top officials to address the growing level of deficit and borrowing rather than sell national assets.
In a letter dated 16 January 2021, and signed by the CSO’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the National Assembly has a constitutional and oversight responsibility to protect valuable public properties and to ensure a responsible budget spending.
It noted that disposing of valuable public properties to fund the budget was not in public interest and would be counter-productive, as the action would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.
The rights group added that that it would undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off, and hurt the country in the long run.
It called for a freeze on spending in certain areas of the budget such as hardship and furniture allowances, entertainment allowances, international travels, buying of vehicles and utilities for lawmakers’ members and the presidency.
The letter urged the legislature to work with the presidency to fix the current damaging budgeting process and address systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“SERAP also urges the National Assembly to stop approving loan requests by the Federal Government if it continues to fail to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained”, Oluwadare wrote.