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.
It will be recalled 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 brain child 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?
As head of the Economic Management Committee during the Obasanjo administration, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, 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.
It makes 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 His Excellency 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 $322 million Abacha loot to certain Nigerians, only to obtain a $328 million loan from China, allegedly for ICT development.
Rather than share that money, the Buhari administration ought to have put that $322 million in an escrow account to be used for funding the 2019 budget.
Also, 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.
It is a testament to our candidate that he helped build and develop national assets that are now so valuable that they can be sold. Creating more of such assets is at the core of his agenda to Get Nigeria Working Again.
It is our hope that the Buhari government will accept this patriotic pro bono advise and retrace its step accordingly.