Paul Obi in Abuja
A coalition of Civil Society Organisation (CSO), under the aegis Say No Campaign Nigeria, has called on President Muhammad Buhari to sell off his fleet of presidential jets as an exemplary measure to assure Nigerians that government was ready and willing to sacrifice in order to rescue the country from the current economic brink.
The coalition made up of Partners for Electoral Reform (PEF), Protest to Power Movement (PPM) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) said it was disingenuous for public officers to continue to live their extravagant lifestyles in the midst of the biting economic hardship.
Speaking to journalists yesterday in Abuja on the state of the nation, the Chairman of the group, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, explained that considering the worsening economic hardship in the country, there was need for the President Buhari to make some urgent adjustments and show clear commitments towards restoring the dwindling economic recession.
Nwagwu argued that the prevailing economic hardship compels rethinking of how government officials encourage waste in the system.
“We are greatly concerned about the unprecedented levels of economic hardship bedeviling the nation which has resulted in hunger, deprivation, unemployment, sky rocketing cost of essential commodities, unmitigated corruption in public and private institutions.
“The worsening security situation in our country, the flagrant abuse of democratic processes and the accompanying failure or refusal by government to effectively address these issues,” Nwagwu stressed.
He contended that “the situation in Nigeria was grim and therefore required urgent response. While we hold that the Buhari administration deserves commendation for its social intervention initiative aimed to reducing unemployment, we maintain that a lot more needs to be done, and urgently too to avert the looming economic disaster.
“We demand practical solutions for ameliorating the economic hardship, sale off the Presidential jets which the president promised to do, 50% slash in salaries of public officers.”
The group while proffering practical solutions to the lingering economic crisis demanded that, “government should make essential commodities available to vulnerable Nigerians at reduced prices, probe of pet projects of First Ladies which act as conduit pipes.”
On budget padding and constituency project crisis rocking the National Assembly, the group held that budget padding was not possible without the full connivance of the entire leadership of both houses of National Assembly and the executive.
They argued the most acceptable measure to the clear the air on the issue remains an “immediate constitution of an independent panel of inquiry to undertake a comprehensive review and audit of the constituency projects and constituency offices between 2004 and 2016.
“We call for the entire leadership of the National Assembly to step outside, or be removed by their colleagues pending the outcome of the independent inquiry and audit process.
“We call for an audit of the budgetary process to determine gaps in the fiscal responsibility act and other relevant frameworks, as well as ascertain the level of compliance with the act,” the chairman stated.