Senate rejects Assets sale proposal

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The senate has collectively rejected the proposal that the Nigerian government should put up some National Assets for sale to raise foreign exchange, to turn around the nation’s economy.

The rejection of the asset sale proposal was the aggregate opinion of its members, which was debated for two days, last week. However, there is no law presently in the constitution compelling the Presidency to accept the position of the senate on the issue of the assets sale.

Dignitaries like business mogul, Aliko Dangote, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi are among the retinue of Nigerians who have advocated the sale of some important National assets as a way of raising funds to get the nation out of the woods of economic recession.

The opinion of the members of the Upper Chamber was contained in the harmonised report of its Adhoc committee set up ‘to put together the aggregate opinion of members who spoke on the way out of the recession.’

The report of the committee was presented and debated by Senators during Tuesday’s plenary.

This was even as the Senate in line with recommendation to that effect, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, prepare an economic stimulus Bill containing all the fiscal stimulus packages, investments and incentives designed to pull the country out of recession, to the National Assembly for accelerated consideration and passage.

In its report, the committee noted that the opinion of the senators was that some assets could be sold but in selling the assets, “the government should ensure that the assets do not fall into the hands of hawks.”

However, the senators at the committee of the whole rose in unison against the recommendation saying “it does not reflect the true position of members on the issue.”

It was thereafter reframed by members to say emphatically that the lawmakers reject outrightly the call and proposal for the sale of the assets. Taking the report of the committee clause by clause, the Senate adopted the rest of the recommendations made by the committee in the report.

Recommendations adopted
Other salient recommendations adopted by the Senate include; Urging the executive to ensure constant meeting of fiscal and monetary authorities for harmonisation of all policies, particularly lower interest rates for genuine investors in the real sector as well as medium and small scale farmers and processors.

It also recommended that the Government must engage in meaningful and inclusive dialogue with the aggrieved Niger Delta militants, to avoid escalation of the unrest in the region and ensure protection of Nigeria’s oil and gas assets to facilitate increase in oil production and boost revenue.

To this end, the recommendation said that the President should as a matter of urgency, appoint a Senior Special Assistant who should lead a team that coordinates the government’s engagement with all stakeholders in the region, specifying that the team should include Senators from the Zone.

The Upper Chamber also adopted the recommendation, urging the President to reconstitute the Board of Central Bank and all other critical agencies, to operate in accordance with the enabling laws.

To solve the age long problem associated with saving for the rainy day by the Nigerian government, the Senate adopted the recommendation seeking for amendment of section 162 of the constitution to make it possible for government to save money to that effect.

The Senate also asked the Government to review and ensure the payment of all genuine debts owed to local contractors, who had satisfactorily completed their jobs.

The President was also urged to consider the establishment of Council of Economic advisers.
Mercy Chukwudiebere