By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate on Thursday approved the 2016- 2018 External Borrowing Plan to the tune of $22.7 billion to be spent by the Federal Government to execute key infrastructural projects.
The approval of the Senate was sequel to the consideration of the report of the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts by the Chairman, Senator Clifford Ordia, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Edo Central.
When confusion trailed the Consideration of the report, the lawmakers were forced into an Executive session at 12.40 and came out at 1.30 pm.
Soon after the session, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan read the recommendations and it was passed.
Recall that prior to the Executive session, there was confusion after the presentation of the report by Senator Clifford Ordia.
After the presentation, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan had insisted that the lawmakers should go to the recommendations and vote.
This did not go down well with the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South who raised it that there must be line by line consideration of the report and the recommendations before the voting process.
The chamber became tensed as the debate was now between Lawan and Abaribe.
There was sharp disagreement between them against the backdrop that while the President of the Senate wanted an outright approval of the loan, the Minority vehemently kicked against that.
To save the situation, Senator Gabriel Suswam, PDP, Benue asked that the Senate should go into an Executive session for ten minutes where those knotty issues of lopsided allocation of projects would be resolved.
But the President of the Senate rejected the call for a closed session, stressing that this would have happened prior to plenary session, adding, “we are at the point of no return”
This did not go down well with Abaribe as he stood up to speak again where he now cited Order 14(C) of the Senate Standing Orders as Amended.
Lawan now made U-Turn on his position and now called for a closed-door session.
They now entered into a closed session at 12.40.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had on November 28, written to the Senate, again requesting for the approval of 2016- 2018 External Borrowing to the tune of $30 billion to be spent by the Federal Government to execute key infrastructural projects across the country.
The letter, which was dated November 26, 2019, was read on the floor of the Red Chamber by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary.
In the letter, President Buhari explained that it became imperative to represent the request because the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.