Former Vice-President and Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has stated that the plan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government to sell off some national assets to fund the 2019 budget is irresponsible.
Atiku Abubakar condemned the plan in a statement by his campaign media office in Abuja on Wednesday, describing it as highly irresponsible.
Atiku said it was ridiculous that President Buhari planned to sell national assets built when the PDP was in power after claiming that successive PDP governments did not build any infrastructure in the country between 1999 and 2015.
Excerpts from the statement read;
“The attention of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation has been drawn to a policy statement by the Muhammadu Buhari administration evincing a plan to sell national assets to fund the 2019 budget. Our first response would be that this action by the Buhari government has the effect of ridiculing their principal.
Recall that on Monday the 29th of October, 2018, President Buhari accused past leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party of not building public infrastructure, while delivering the 75th Anniversary Business lecture of the Island Club, Lagos.
However, 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 between 1999 and 2007.
Some of them were the brainchild of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
Our question is this: If the PDP did not build infrastructure, as alleged by President Muhammadu Buhari, who built these assets that this administration wants to sell to fund their 2019 budget?”
Atiku said further that he successfully supervised the privatization policy in the country as head of the Economic Management Committee under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
He said that the policy of privatisation worked because it was seen as a long-term strategy to engender efficiency in the economic system and further expand the frontiers of private sector activity.
Atiku further revealed that the primary goal of the policy was not to raise money for short-term stabilisation of what is clearly a fragile fiscal system.
The government’s planned sale of assets, he said, would cause long-term pains and only provide short-term gains.
Consequently, he sounded note of warning that it made no sense to sell of national assets simply to fund a ‘business-as-usual’ budget that is essentially 70 per cent recurrent. He contined;
“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 Abubakar has on various occasions made it clear that what is needed at this time is fundamentally 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.
For instance, last month, the PDP Presidential candidate questioned the wisdom behind the Federal Government sharing $322m Abacha loot to certain Nigerians, only to obtain a $328m loan from China, allegedly for ICT development. Rather than share that money, the Buhari administration ought to have put that $322m in an escrow account to be used for funding the 2019 budget.”