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Eventually, Senate Approves Buhari’s $22.7b Loan

BY LEVI JOHNSON

There was an uproar in the Senate on Thursday as the Senate approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request of $22,798,446,773.00 external loan request.

Buhari had requested for the loan to fund critical infrastructure projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan.

Before the approval, there was stiff disagreement among the senators whether or not to approve it or not.
While Senator Adamu Aliero from Kebbi Central sought for a postponement and reconsider the report another legislative day, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that such a postponement would be counterproductive.

Lawan explained the reason why the decision should be taken immediately, stressing that the findings and recommendations of the report would have already been debated in the media before the next legislative seating. Lawan, therefore, urged the other senators to decide to forestall such an eventuality.

Lawan eventually moved to subject the two recommendations in the report to vote and approval.

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Minority Leader, on his part raised a point of order.

Senator Abaribe suggested that it would be necessary to subject the various components of the loan to voting, especially the amounts and the lending countries.

Lawan disagreed with him and said that the Senate would only vote on the two recommendations contained in the report.

Abaribe said: “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 is some aspect 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.”

Lawan in his response 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.”

“I want to quote one popular saying that he who goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing,” Abaribe replied.

At this point, Senator Gabriel Suswam said that he also had some objections and information on an aspect of the loan that relates to power projects in the report which he did not want to raise in the open chamber.

He urged the Senate President to allow the Senate to go into an executive session for 10 minutes to resolve the issues.

“There are contentious issues in this report. I want to appeal that we go into an executive session for 10 minutes after that we can conclude proceedings on this report,” Suswam said.

Even though Lawan earlier kicked against the suggestion for the Senate to go into an executive session, he later accepted it following apparent interventions by Senators.

The Senate after the closed-door session, which lasted for about 30 minutes, approved the two recommendations in the report.

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