© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Senate approves $22.7b loan amidst rising debts, depleting foreign reserves
THE Senate on Thursday approved $22.7 billion loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The request was finally approved after initial objection from selected members of the red chamber.
Prior to the approval, the lawmakers had heated argument for about 45 minutes which eventually ended in a closed-door session.
Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Senate Minority Leader was more vociferous among other senators who kicked against the request for the $22.7billion loan by the president.
He tasked the lawmakers against immediate consideration of all recommendations required for the loan, as spelled out by the Committee on Local and Foreign Loans.
According to him, the two-item recommendations should be considered one after the other, “item by item.”
“We are going to pass a loan approval of $27 billion and we that will pay back are making efforts to seek clarification but you Mr. President, you are not giving us the privilege to make our point known,” Abaribe said.
“All I wanted to point out which we found out on this floor that you are denying us is that there are some aspects of this loan that we must vote on to decide whether they are in our interest or not. And the Senate Leader had confirmed with me that he wanted the same.
“We accept the ones that will raise our economy. We have some issues with certain things in there. The reason report of committees come to the general house is for us to make our inputs into those things, now we want to make our input but you shut us out.”
But the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan accused him of providing only synopsis rather than full details of his point of order regarding the loan.
“You have not been denied. Minority Leader, you know the process more than anybody else. So, you have not been denied.”
Lawan further insisted that the minority lawmakers have had their fair shares on the floor of the senate.
However, the senate president disagreed with Abaribe.
He insisted that the loan would be used for the benefit of the majority of the masses such as developmental projects.
It could be recalled that the last Senate under the leadership of Bukola Saraki turned down the loan request.
Meanwhile, as of July 2019, the Debt Management Office (DMO) pegged the debt at $68.74 billion.
The debt is, however, projected to rise to $160.94 billion by 2021 and $245.79 billion by 2024.