For opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan's request for $1 billion loan to equip the military for the battle against insurgency, it was bad news from the Senate yesterday as the parliament said the request was consistent with its earlier resolution asking the president to present a supplementary budget whenever it is required to fight the battle against insurgency.
Making this disclosure to THISDAY during a telephone conversation, its spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, recalled that when the Senate approved the request for emergency rule extension on May 20, this year, it attached eight conditions which included a resolution advising the president to present "a supplementary budget to meet any emerging establishment financial requirements needed to combat insurgency in the affected areas." According to him, the Senate had resolved that it would deploy every power within its reach to assist the executive in its relentless effort to combat the menace of Boko Haram terrorist group in the country, explaining that if the request for loan will assist the country to win the battle against terrorism, it is in order.
"It is consistent with Senate resolve that we will do everything that needs to be done to empower the executive to confront Boko Haram. You will recall that the Senate resolved that the president could present a supplementary budget to aid the battle against insurgency when we approved the extension of emergency rule," he said.
Furthermore, the senator explained that the parliament's perception about the request differs completely from that of its opponents which had since been calling for its rejection adding that the Senate's concern is to ensure that it leaves no stone unturned in assisting the Federal Government to win the battle against insurgency. "The Senate doesn't see it that (opponents') way. Ours is to work with the executive to ensure that we overcome the activities of Boko Haram," he emphasised.
He also dismissed insinuations in the media that the request for the $1 billion loan had already suffered a major setback as a result of the National Assembly's decision to embark on its scheduled summer break 24 hours after the request was submitted by the president. According to him, nothing has gone wrong as he explained that the summer break was not synonymous with the Biblical law of the Medes and Persians which could not be revoked adding that the Senate can always reconvene whenever a matter of urgent national importance demanding its attention is required.
He, however, declined to ascertain if Senate's perception of the request implied that the senators would automatically approve it, saying it would be unparliamentarian to draw that conclusion as he said assurance of that magnitude could only be determined by Senate's resolution.
Jonathan had on July 16, sought National Assembly's nod to secure whopping $1 billion loan to enable the federal government upgrade military equipment in its renewed bid to fight Boko Haram and stamp out insurgency in Nigeria. This decision was conveyed in a letter he addressed to Senate President David Mark, explaining that the loan would also enable the government to engage in what he described as "government to government arrangement" for the upgrade.
Critics of the request had argued that the sum of more than N1 trillion spent so far to fight insurgency had yielded no fruitful result, insisting that despite the huge sum, modern equipment had not been purchased while the media had been awash with reports of poor welfare package for security forces who stake their lives to fight insurgency.