The Senate on Tuesday unanimously threw out plans by President Muhammadu Buhari to engage in external borrowing of $29.960billion for execution of key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
The Senate did not even discuss it as it was killed immediately it was mentioned as an executive communication by Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume “that the Senate do consider the request of the President Commander in Chief on the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Rolling Plan.”
Soon after Ndume’s remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki now puts it to Vote and the Nays had it.
Senator Saraki who was surprised and trying to give President Buhari a soft landing, decided to put it into vote the second time and the Nays still had it and he ruled.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday last week written to the National Assembly seeking for the approval of external borrowing plan of $29.960billion for execution of key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
The letter titled, “Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing( Rolling) Plan” was read on the floor of the Senate”
President Buhari had explained in the letter that external borrowing plan would be targeted at projects which cut across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, Agriculture, Health, Education , Water supply , Growth and employment generation , poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms etc.
According to him,” the total cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960billion made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274billion, Special National Infrastructure projects $10.686billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5billion “.
The President who also explained that the loan was very necessary in view of the serious infrastructural deficit, the nation is facing, said, “Considering the huge infrastructure deficit currently being experienced in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources and the inability of our annual budgetary provisions to bridge the deficit, it has become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financing gap, which will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely Power, Railway and roads projects among others.”
Meanwhile, Speaking with Journalists today, in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senate, Senator Ita Enang who noted that the Executive was not at war with the upper chambers, said that the presidency would engage the senate by providing all the needed documents and materials for the approval of the loan.
Senator Enang said, “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 are contained in the plan. So we are collating that information, the budget office of the federation, the debt management office, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of Finance and the economic team they are collating the information so that they can be submitted to the Senate to enable them take the appropriate decision.
“We would 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’s for them to consider and as they have considered, more information is needed and that information they are entitled to it and we would provide.”