Senate wants NTA, FRCN, Others sold

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The Senate on Tuesday at a plenary session called on the Federal Government to sell or scrap some of its agencies, saying they have outlived their usefulness and are no longer enjoying patronage.

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Among the agencies that were categorically mentioned and asked to be sold or scrap are;  the National Orientation Agency, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, and Voice of Nigeria, who listens to the VON.

The senators made this call during their debate of the 2018 Appropriations Bill where they flayed the Federal Government for not implementing the 2017 budget, particularly the capital components of it.

The lawmakers said the high recurrent expenditures of the government was responsible for the poor budget performance, calling for the sale or scrapping of some of government’s agencies.

“If you look at the budget, you will see some agencies, they get recurrent expenditure, they pay salaries, they get houses, computers, cars etc., but they have no money to do any work. No money to do any work but we pay salaries. Some agencies are so bloated it defies logic, but these agencies exist. So, we have 2.4 million people consuming 60 per cent of the recurrent expenditure of Nigeria. It doesn’t make any sense.

“I called former President Obasanjo on the phone two days ago and he said to me, ‘The National Orientation Agency was necessary when we had no political party, what is the value of the National Orientation Agency in today’s world for instance? Yet billions of naira is spent on that agency.

“Let us look at agencies that make no sense: the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, sell it to the staff. The FRCN has 8,000 workers, sell it to them. Sell Nigerian Television Authority to the staff. Voice of Nigeria, who listens to the VON?” Senator Ben Bruce said in his contribution to the debate.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, agreed with Senator Bruce in his remarks.

He said, “We must point out in the course of the debate how we will be able to reduce the deficit. Ben Murray-Bruce has told us that some government agencies should not be in existence anymore, including the Voice of Nigeria, which nobody is listening to. We need to point out some of these MDAs that are of no consequence or adding no value to Nigeria so that we don’t keep spending money on them. That is the way we will be able to reduce the ratio between the capital and the recurrent expenditures, and of course reduce the deficit.

“I hope the government will listen to such exposures and be able to do away with such agencies. If the government fails to remove those agencies from our budget, we have a responsibility to Nigerians to bring bills in order to repeal the laws setting up those agencies and stop wastage of our resources.”

On Monday, the Federal Government said it has concluded arrangement to sell some of its assets, namely Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), National Arts Theatre(both in Lagos) and some selected power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP). It said the proceeds from the sale will be used to finance the country’s annual budgets for the next three years (2018-2020).

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