The dayshursday approved President Goodluck Jonathan’s request of $1bn external loan to fight the ongoing insurgency in the country.
The decision was taken following the submission of the report of the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and that of Local and Foreign Debt by the Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi. Makarfi said the loan request was not in cash but supply of military hardware to be paid for, over seven years.
He said the interest terms rate could not be indicated because it was the suppliers of the military hardware that would negotiate such agreement.
He said, “Also, the request is for a ceiling of $1bn and not that, at the moment, the whole amount would be ubuytilised.
“Government will procure on the terms stated, based on needs assessment of our security agencies.”
There was however, a mild drama on the floor of the red chamber when Senate President, David Mark; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; and Makarfi urged their colleagues not to subject the report to a debate because of its security implications.But the Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume; Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi; and Babafemi Ojudu laboured in vain to frustrate the approval of the loan.
Adetunmbi quoted relevant sections of the Nigerian constitution to argue that the loan request contradicted the Appropriation Act, and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
He further argued that Jonathan should have requested for the loan through a supplementary appropriation bill.However, Makarfi clarified that Adetunmbi’s arguments were not relevant to the matter because the loan was not in cash.He said the National Assembly would be contacted by the executive for necessary appropriation whenever it was time to repay the loan in cash.
Mark therefore called for a voice vote to determine the approval or rejection of the loan.Members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the upper chamber voted in support while their counterpart in the All Progressives Congress voted against it.
Written by Sunday Aborishade in Abuja.
For The Punch Newspaper