…We’ll get the details later, Senate
By Henry Umoru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday wrote to the Senate, again requesting for the approval of 2016- 2018 External Borrowing by the Federal Government.
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Acccording to the President, the loan would be used to execute key Infrastructural projects across the country.
The letter, which was dated November 26, 2019, was read on the floor by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary.
President Buhari, in the letter, said the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.
The President Buhari is representing the request for $ 30 billion external loan for the projects between 2016 and 2018 against the backdrop that it was rejected in the 8th Senate.
President Buhari had asked for external loan of $29.96 billion to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
According to him, the rejection then stalled the Federal Government’s implementation of critical projects spanning across the mining, power, health, agricultural, water and educational sectors.
The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 21 and 27 of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act, I hereby request for Resolutions of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan, as well as relevant projects under this plan.
“Specifically, the Senate is invited to note that: While I had transmitted the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan to the Eighth National Assembly in September, 2016, this plan was not approved in its entirety by the Legislature, only the Federal Government’s Emergency projects for the North East, (Four (4) States’ projects and one (1) China Exam Bank Assisted Railway Modernisation Projects for Lagos – Ibadan Segment) we’re approved, out of a total of thirty-nine (39) projects.
“The Outstanding projects in the plan that were not approved by the Legislature are, nevertheless, critical to the delivery of the Government’s policies and programmes relating to power, mining, roads, agriculture, health, water and educational sectors.
“These outstanding projects are well advanced in terms of their preparation, consistent with the 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis undertaken by the Debt Management Office and were approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2016 under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan.
“Accordingly, I have attached, for your kind consideration, relevant information from the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning the specific outstanding projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan for which legislative approval is currently sought.
“I have also directed the Minister to make herself available to provide any additional information or clarification which you may require to facilitate prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan.
Meanwhile, the Acting Chairman of Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, All Progressives Congress, APC, Nasarawa South when asked if the Senate has got the details of the request, he simply pleaded for patience and the Senate will get it.
Recall that the 8th Senate under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki had in November 2016 rejected the request when the Presidrnt wrote the Senate, seeking for approval of the loan.
The Saraki led Senate threw out the request on the grounds that the letter that conveyed the message was not accompanied by a borrowing plan.
The 8th Senate did not even discuss the request as it died immediately it was mentioned as an executive communication by the then Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume.
In a related development, President Buhari, in another letter, addressed to the Senate President transmitted the Companies and Allies Matters Bill, 2019 to the National Assembly for consideration and passage.
The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby forward the Companies and Allied Matters Bill, 2019 for consideration and passage into law.
“The Senate may wish to note that, in this Bill, Section 26(5) of the extant Companies and Allied Matters Act has been amended to: Preserve the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation to approve the registration of Companies Limited by Guarantee: and Reflect the Ease of Doing Business principles in Executive Order No. 1 of 2017 on the Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment.”