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19 Mar 2020

Reason House Of Reps Suspends Buhari's $22.7bn Loan Application Revealed

One of the reasons the House of Representatives suspended the consideration of the federal government’s $22.7 billion foreign loan was due to “agitation about the South-east not benefiting from the loan.”
House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said this to a delegation of religious leaders from the South-south and South-east regions of the country, in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said he had personally spoken with the finance minister and the director-general of the Budget Office to find a solution.

The group, Leaders of Faith Forum, had urged the federal government to “completely jettison the idea of taking a foreign loan of $22.7bn at this time.”

However, Mr Gbajabiamila, in a statement his spokesperson, Lanre Lasisi, sent to PREMIUM TIMES, said the issue is debatable and that the government should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Mr Gbajabiamila added that the loan request, having received Senate’s assent, was due for House’s assent, too, but the agitation of exclusion by the South-east held the green chamber back.

“I know there has been a lot of agitation about (the) South-east not benefiting from the loan. It is one of the reasons we haven’t considered the loan in the House. I’ve discussed with the Finance Minister and the DG Budget,” the statement read.

“It’s a matter that we’re looking at seriously. I’m hoping that there will be some kind of amicable resolution so that everybody will be carried along. Equity suggests that all zones must be carried along.

“With the quality of members that you have and the generality of the House, we’ll work towards a fair resolution of the issue so that it leads to something that will bring us together and unite us as a country.”

Earlier, the finance minister said the government was suspending the loan request based on global economic realities.


‘Exclusion’


Amidst disagreements and arguments which forced the Senate to a closed-door session that lasted for about thirty minutes, the Senate passed the loan about a fortnight ago.

Last Thursday, the South-east caucus in both chambers of the national assembly complained about the exclusion of the region from infrastructural projects for which the federal government was planning to borrow $22.7 billion.

This aside, the caucus also complained about poor representation of the region in the appointments in the National Assembly institutions.

As the agitation grew, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, went into a closed-door meeting with the South-east lawmakers.

The leader of the caucus and former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, told journalists after the meeting “that they have been assured of inclusion in the loan projects.”

He said they believed the matter will either be revisited or since it has not been passed in the House, “the appropriate thing will be done and our people’s fears will be allayed.”

On exclusion from key appointments, Mr Ekweremadu assured that the leadership of the National Assembly had agreed to address it “as soon as vacancy(ies) occur in the need of those positions.”

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