Senate Gives Approval To Buhari’s $5.5Bn Foreign Loan Request 

Joseph Bakare

The Senate on Tuesday approved the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to proceed with borrowing of $5.5billion from international sources; in order to fund the deficit of the 2020 budget.

The request was conveyed in a letter to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Presenting the report, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts; Clifford Ordia stated that the approval of the loan became necessary due to the need for an emergency health expenditure; as a result of the COVID-19!pandemic.

Meanwhile, the House also approved the request by the President to borrow $22.7billion from external sources.

The House Committee on Supply approved the loan request following the consideration of a report by the Committee on Loans and Debt Management.

It would be recalled that the report was slated for consideration in February.

However, the South East protested the composition of the projects and alleged exclusion of the region.

The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had in a statement in March said the consideration of the report; which had been passed by the Senate was suspended because of agitation from the South East

“I know there has been a lot of agitation about (the) South East not benefiting from the loan. It is one of the reasons we haven’t considered the loan in the House. I’ve discussed with the Finance Minister and the DG Budget,” the statement read.

Speaking on the report, the Chairman of the House Committee on Loans and Debt Management; Ahmed Safana said the committee is recommending the inclusion of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail line in the next loan request.

The total loan approved by the House is $22,798,446,773 and to be sourced from the following; the World Bank: $2,854,000,000, Africa Development Bank: $1,888,950,000; Islamic Development Bank (IDB): $110,000,000; German Development Bank: $200,000,000; China Eximbank; $17,065,496,773 and AFD; $480,000,000.

Speaking on behalf of the South East caucus, the Deputy Whip of the House; Nkirukah Onyejeocha said the approval of the loan is a bitter pill to swallow for her and the South East.

Also speaking on the loan, the Chief Whip said the North East will support the loan based on the agreement that; the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line will be in the next project.

On his part, Speaker Gbajabiamila said his attempt to correct the defect proved abortive; noting that the request is based on agreement.

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