Amid disagreement, Senate approves Buhari’s $22.7bn borrowing plan

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The Senate has approved the request by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to borrow $22,798,446,773.00 from external sources.

The Upper Chamber approved the loan request on Wednesday following the consideration of the report of the Sen. Clifford Ordia-led Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts and after much controversy.

Although the present administration said it needed the loan to fund critical infrastructure projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan, some senators expressed dissatisfaction with some components of the loan.

After Ordia’s committee submitted its report, Senate President Ahmed Lawan moved for voting on and adoption of the two recommendations in the report.

However, Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe raised a point of order for the recommendations to be broken into components while Senators vote on each component.

The Abia South senator expressed reservations about some aspects of the borrowing plan, especially the amounts and lending countries.

Majority Leader, Sen. Abdullahi Yahaya also supported Abaribe’s request that the report should be considered part by part to avail the senators the full knowledge of every line item and details of the bill.

However, Lawan said that would not be necessary, saying it could divide the Senate along partisan lines.

“We are going to pass a loan of $22.7billion for which we are being denied the privilege to express our reservations. You are putting us in a very impossible position.

“There are some aspects of this loan that we object to. I want to ask on behalf of our colleagues here that we take these items one by one and vote on them,” the minority leader said.

Replying, Lawan said, “You (Minority Leader) have not been denied of your privilege.

“I don’t want the discussion on this loan to degenerate into partisanship. My action was was not an attempt to muscle you.”

Reacting to the Senate President’s comment, Abaribe said, “I want to quote one popular saying that he who goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing.”

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Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP – Benue North) also expressed reservations about some portions of the loan request and moved for the Senate to go into a short executive session to address the grey areas.

After the executive session, the loan request was approved.

The Herald gathered that the bulk of the loan would come from the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, the World Bank and banks from China, Japan and Germany.

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