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President Muhammadu Buhari
Following Senate’s rejection of the external borrowing proposal from the presidency on Tuesday, the ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning as well as the Debt Management Office, DMO, have commenced plans to represent the matter to the senate in a more detailed manner.
Senate leader, Ali Ndume, had moved the motion for the president’s request to be debated upon during plenary, but when Senate President, Bukola Saraki, put the motion to a voice vote, majority of the legislators responded in the negative.
The rejection reportedly came to the Executive as a surprise as the leadership of the ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning as well as the DMO immediately met to work on the details of the loans.
After the plenary, Ndume addressed journalists where he confirmed that the loan request was turned down on “technical” grounds.
He said: “Honestly, I think the problem came on a technical ground. It was supposed to go to committee level and the committee was supposed to take a look at it.
“I am going to appeal to my colleagues to take a look at it again and see how we can bring it back, because one doesn’t throw away the baby with the bath water.
“One of the technical things that was missing there is that, even if you read the letter, it said ‘attached is a draft’ but there was no attachment. These are the kinds of lapses we are trying to look at.”
Also reacting to the Senate’s decision, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly, Ita Enang, said that the presidency had noted the lapses and will furnish the Senate with details of the loan.
“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 as contained in the plan,” Enang said.
“So, we are collating that information; the Budget Office of the Federation, the Debt Management Office, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, the Minister of Finance and the Economic Management Team are collating the information so that it can be submitted to the Senate to enable the lawmakers make the appropriate decision.
“We will be engaging the Senate. We will not be disputing with them, but we will be engaging with them. When we present a matter before the legislature, it is for them to consider; and as they have considered, more information is needed and that information they are entitled to, and we will provide,” he added.
Similarly, the Director-General, DMO, Abraham Nwankwo, urged the Senate to approve the loan request as, according to him, the Federal Government would not have difficulties repaying it.
Nwankwo clarified that the proposed $29.9 billion loan, which covers a period of three years, has a lower interest rate of 1.5% as well as a long repayment period, and would help in addressing the glaring infrastructure deficit in the country.