Nigeria: Disagreement in Senate Over Buhari's Foreign Loan Request

Nigerian Senate (file photo).

The Senate has commenced deliberations on the $22 billion external borrowing request by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.

Chairman of the committee, Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo), read out the report and recommended that the Senate approve the request.

The decision to discuss behind closed doors was, however, preceded by back and forth arguments between lawmakers and the Senate President which lasted for over half an hour.

Both the Majority and Minority leaders, Abdulahi Yahaya and Enyinnaya Abaribe, suggested that the report be considered part by part to avail the senators the full knowledge of every line item and details of the bill.

But Mr Lawan insisted that the consideration will be done as a whole and a voice vote will be put for senators to vote.

The argument continued for a while with Mr Lawan insisting it will be done as he said.

After minutes of silence and consultations, Mr Yahaya moved that the Senate goes into a closed-door session for further deliberations - which was adopted.

The lawmakers are expected to resume soon and consider and approve the request.

Mr Buhari had, on November 28, forwarded the request to the Senate to reconsider and approve the federal government's 2016 to 2018 external borrowing plan.

The loan, he said, was to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.

The president had sent the same request to the eight Senate under Bukola Saraki in 2016. He had requested for about $30 billion.

The then lawmakers, however, rejected the request as majority voted against it when it was brought for consideration.

In his recent letter, Mr Buhari explained that the external borrowing plan targets projects that cut across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation.

A former lawmaker, Shehu Sani, had explained that the eight Senate rejected the president's loan request to save Nigeria from sinking into a debt trap.

More details soon... .

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