The Senate Wednesday raised the alarm over alleged plans by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to fund the nation’s infrastructure.
This, the body said, followed their failure to defend their components of the N5.01trillion loan, projected for financing the N6.26 trillion deficit in the N16.39 trillion 2022 budget.
To this end, the upper legislative chamber threatened heads of the affected agencies with serious sanctions if they failed to appear before its committee on local and foreign debts within one week for the required interface.
The loan requests
The Senate, July 15, 2021, had approved Buhari’s $8,325,526,537 (USD) and €490,000,000 (Euros) external loan request under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.
And in yet another request via a letter read September 14, 2021, Buhari sought the approval of the Senate to borrow an additional sum of USD$4,054,476,863 billion and €710 million Euros.
The letter said the loan was needed to fund projects listed in the addendum to the 2018 to 2021 federal government’s external borrowing plan.
The president told the lawmakers that the projects would be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Credit Swiss Group, and Standard Chartered in the credit total sum of 4.5 billion dollars, 710 million euros and grant component of 125 million dollars.
Senate’s riot act
But the Senate said the MDAs were not helping the Buhari-led administration because they failed to turn up to make further clarifications on how the loans were to be used.
Lawan read the riot act after conclusion of debate on general principles of the 2022 budget proposals and passage for second reading ahead of further consideration at committee level.
The affected agencies as announced by the Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan are the Federal Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Power , Environment, Health, Water Resources and Women Affairs, while the only agency is the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
Issuing the summon on behalf of the Senate , Lawan said ” Some Ministries, Departments and Agencies of federal government that should have appeared before the Senate committee on Loan and Foreign Debt to defend the debt request by the executive arm of government must do so before final consideration of the budget.”
He said: “List of some Ministries and agencies of federal government that should have appeared before Senate Committee on a loan and Foreign Debts, to defend the debt request by the Executive arm of government. These MDAs failed to appear. These MDAs failed to appear.
“The Senate considers this attitude as a sabotage to the effort of the federal government to secure the loans and fund the infrastructure development that this country desperately needs.
Already, the National Assembly has approved the loan requests but there is need for clarifications by the affected agencies.
“I will therefore call the names of these MDAs, and we are giving them just one week to appear before the Committee on Loan and Foreign Debts. And if they failed to appear, we’ll take appropriate and prompt action because this Senate will not condone any sabotage to the effort of this administration to provide infrastructure.”
Senators urge judicious use
Earlier at the plenary during debate on the budget proposals, many of the senators who spoke, emphasised the need for the N5.01trillion borrowing to be utilised judiciously on infrastructure as stated in the proposal.
In their separate submissions, the lawmakers also stressed the need for government to look inward for implementation of the budget through increased revenue generation, collection and remittances by relevant agencies.
After passing the budget for second reading, the Senate accordingly set aside the 18th of this month to 9th of November for consideration at committee level.