Senators Kick Against Asset Sales To Curb Recession
Ifeanyi Nwoko(NAN): Some senators on Wednesday kicked against the call by some Nigerians for the sale of the nation’s assets as a means of surviving the current economic recession.
The senators, who spoke on the floor of the senate during a debate on the state of the economy, also called for constitutional amendment to stop sharing of all revenue accruable to the federation account.
NAN reports that a business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, had called for the sale of the assets.
Senate President Bukola Saraki also made the call in his welcome address at the resumption of legislative activities by the Senate on Tuesday.
However, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekwerenmadu and Sen. George Akume cautioned against the sale of the assets during the debate.
According to them, no country resorts to selling its assets as a way out of economic recession.
Ekwerenmadu said: “UAE does not even allow you close to oil wells let alone selling them.
“For a country like Saudi Arabia, its budget each year is run by investments from oil revenue.
“Other countries are investing; I am sure we will not be fair to the next generation if we sell off our assets.
“If we must sell, we have to sell the non-performing assets so that people can turn them around and create employment.”
He said that the recession had buttressed the importance of savings, and called for amendment of the revenue sharing formula between the federal and state governments to encourage savings.
“We need to amend Section 162 especially from 3,4,5,6 where each money in the federation account is made to be shared,” he said.
Commenting, Akume advised Nigerians to refrain from calling for assets sale.
He said that the country should focus on recovering stolen funds.
Akume noted that much money had been reported to have been stolen from the nation, adding that a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, had pointed to stolen $60 billion.
Akume added that another former CBN Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, also pointed to stolen $20 billion that could be recovered.
“From these and monies going through other sources, we should be able to recoup over $50 billion. If we succeed in doing this, do we still have to sell our assets?
“If we want to sell our oil assets at this time when the price of oil crashed, how much are we going to realise?
“We are making a mistake here; what we are doing is to ensure that those who are within the bracket of the stolen dollars will still come to buy,’’ he said.
Akume said that the country should rather focus on industrialisation through agriculture.
The senator also called for the review of the revenue sharing formula to encourage savings, saying that states should not insist on sharing revenue.
Sen. Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central) also urged review of the revenue sharing formula. He said that sharing all revenues contributed to Nigeria’s economic crisis.
“The situation whereby states come to Abuja every month to collect cheques and then go back to execute capital and recurrent expenditure has made impossible any initiative to boost our economy,” he said.
Sani called on state governments to look into ways to improve their internally generated revenue rather than relying on the federal allocation.