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President Muhammadu Buhari’s request seeking for the approval of the National Assembly for a $29.9billion foreign suffered a setback yesterday after it was rejected by the Senate.
The Senate Leader Ali Ndume had moved a motion for the consideration of the request and it was seconded by Deputy Minority Leader Emmanuel Bwacha.
However, when the motion was put to vote by the Senate President Bukola Saraki, those against it overwhelmed those for it.
The senate president repeated the question and got similar response and eventually hit the gavel in favour of those against the request.
President Buhari had last week requested the approval of the lawmakers to secure $29.9billion loan through a letter which was read last Wednesday by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
The loan, if approved, according the President, will go to areas such as health, power, railway, roads, education, water resources, among others.
A breakdown of the proposal shows that $11.274 billion was for projects and programmes, Special National Infrastructure Projects $10.686 billion, Euro Bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government Budget Support of $3.5 billion.
Addressing newsmen, Ndume expressed shock over the rejection but said he would re-present the request.
“The borrowing plan was technically rejected but I’m going to re-present it. The problem came on technical ground. It was supposed to go to the Committee,” he said.
On why it was rejected, Ndume said, “There was no attachment of the borrowing plan as indicated in the President’s letter. The detail of the borrowing plan was also not included”.
Paragraph one of the President’s letter reads: “I wish to refer to the above subject and to submit the attached draft of Federal government 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) plan for consideration and early approval by the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects”.
Ndume, however, expressed optimism that the request would be approved when re-presented.
“There is nothing to worry about. We are only trying to do things there way they should be done.”
We’ll provide needed information – Presidency
In his reaction, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang said the Presidency was working hard to provide the required information to the Senate.
“We are not disputing with the distinguished Senate. There are certain information and details which will enable them to consider in detail and appropriately the request of Mr President are contained in the plan.
“So we are collating that information, the Budget Office of the federation, the Debt Management Office, the honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of Finance and the economic team are collating the information so that they can be submitted to the Senate to enable them take the appropriate decision,” he said, adding that “We will not be disputing with them but we will be engaging with them.”
What Buhari should do
A ranking Senator who does not want to be named faulted the rejection, saying the external borrowing was approved in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) last year.
“We have approved part of the loan in MTEF that was submitted to us last year. What they should have done is to approve the amount we approved in the MTEF and demand for the details of the remaining amount,” he said.
He said instead of rejecting the request, they should have stepped it down till the submission of the detail/attachment by the Presidency.
“Since there is no detail or attachment, they shouldn’t have listed the request on the order paper (programme) of the Senate. Buhari will not do such a thing because even Goodluck Jonathan that is considered reckless will not do so.
“It is possible that the detail disappeared at the Senate, you know the budget got missing here last time. I think the development was as a result of the crisis between Saraki and the Presidency,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that the request by the president remains alive as it is yet to be considered by the House of Representatives. Spokesman of the House Abdulrazaq Namdas had last week said that the lower chamber would debate the president’s request this week.
However, sources told Daily Trust that, in view of what transpired at the Senate, the House may not consider it this week.