Reps Consider Buhari’s $22.79bn Loan Today
The House of Representatives has scheduled consideration of the $22.79bn external borrowing request by President Muhammadu Buhari for Wednesday (today).
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, made this known at the plenary on Tuesday.
He made the announcement in reaction to a member, Mr Henry Nwawuba, who presented a petition by a group of South-East elite against consideration and approval of the external loan.
The Senate had earlier on Thursday approved the loan. The process of approval was not, however, without protests from the opposition senators led by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Nwawuba, while summarising the petition, said the elite group was against the procedure for securing the loan as it was against the provisions of some laws.
Such law included the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Debt Management Office Establishment Act.
The group also frowned on the approved 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, the Fiscal Strategy Paper and the principles of federal character and federalism.
Responding, the Speaker asked the lawmaker to lay the petition, noting that “it might take a while and that may stop or delay.”
He added, “Let me say very quickly on that issue; that we are in touch with the Finance Minister; we are having consultations. I spoke to her this morning.
“This matter (loan) was supposed to be brought up today on the order paper but I don’t know why (it was not). I have asked that it should be taken up on the order paper for tomorrow (Wednesday).
“I will finish the engagement with the finance minister. The story may not be as it seems but we would address and fast track it.
“On the issue of the South-East elite, I guess the $22.7bn does not concern the South-East’ poor men; it is only for the elite. Honourable Nwawuba, this $22.7bn you complained about does not concern your constituents? Only the elite? Until we get a petition from the common man who you represent, I’m not sure we will address that petition.”
Nwawuba, in a message he sent to our correspondent after the plenary, said, “Recall that the Senate last week approved the said loan for various infrastructural projects across the country, with what looks like a deliberate exclusion of the South-East in the loan utilisation.
“Since South-East taxpayers’ money is in the repayment plan, the people of the zone deserve to benefit from the said loan which shall be repaid in 20 years’ time. Expect more.”
The funding agencies, according to the Senate panel are the World Bank ($2,854,000,000), African Development Bank ($1,888,950,000), Islamic Development Bank ($110,000,000), Japan International Cooperation Agency ($200,000,000), German Development Bank ($200,000,000), China-Exim Bank ($17,065,496,773), and the French Development Agency ($480,000,000).