The Senate has said it will seek the opinion of stakeholders on the foreign loan borrowing plans of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The 8th National Assembly had rejected the President’s proposed borrowing of $29.96 billion because the proposal was not accompanied by expenditure details and President Buhari presented the request again to the 9th National Assembly for its consideration and approval in November 2019.
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, had assured President Buhari that his request would be granted, even when the legislative protocol had not been carried out on it but his position did not go down well with members of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans, who had been asked to scrutinize the documents and advise the Senate on the next step to take.
Feelers from some members, who last year had spoken on condition of anonymity, showed that they were no longer interested in the approval process.
Further findings indicated that the Committee, which has Senator Clifford Ordia as chairman and Senator Bima Enagi as vice-chairman, may not hold a public hearing on the loan request.
A member of the panel, who spoke with Journalists on condition of anonymity, had said there was an instruction from the Senate leadership not to hold a public hearing, but the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola, in an interview in Abuja, said the red chamber would hold a public hearing on the request.
Senator Adeola, however, stated that the Senator Bukola Saraki-led 8th Senate had approved part of the loan request for Buhari’s regime.
He said, “The Federal Government is not asking the National Assembly to approve the sum of $29.96bn loan. This is because in the last Senate, about $6bn had been approved for President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow out of the $29.96bn. It is the balance of that figure that the government is asking us to approve for it in the borrowing plan, which is about $22.6bn.
The Senator said the Committee on Foreign Loans will organize a public hearing on the issue if need be, adding that in the alternative, the Senate will engage the various Agencies of the government to give them a clearer view of how the money would be utilized.