Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the plan by the Federal Government to dispose of some national assets and use the proceeds to fund the 2019 budget.
Atiku, in a statement by its media office in Abuja on Wednesday, described the plan as irresponsible.
He said it was ridiculous that the Buhari administration was planning to sell assets that were built by the PDP despite the claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that the successive PDP governments from 1999 to 2015 did not build any infrastructure.
The statement said, “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 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?”
The former Vice President added that as the head of the Economic Management Committee during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Atiku supervised the successful policy of privatisation.
He added that privatisation worked because it was seen as a long-term strategy to engender efficiency in the economic system and expand the frontiers of the private sector activity.
He said that its (privatisation) primary goal is 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.
He, therefore, warned that it makes no sense to sell public assets simply to fund a ‘business-as-usual’ budget that is essentially 70 per cent recurrent.
He said, “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 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.