$29.9b Loans: Buhari Bows To Senate, Orders Osinbajo, Others To Work Out Details
Despite reservations by some Senators, President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted on going ahead with plans to obtain $29.9billion loans.
He has also asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and members of his Economic Management Team to work out the details which were demanded by the Senate.
It was learnt that Osinbajo has met with the Ministers of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma, and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo and others.
The details were being fine-tuned by the presidency as at press time.
But Saraki may brief Senators on Buhari’s demand at an Executive Session on Tuesday.
According to findings, Buhari told the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki that the loans were inevitable if the nation was to move forward.
The two leaders have met more than three times in the past two weeks on the loan palaver.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “At the session with the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the President insisted on taking the loans to reflate the economy. He presented all the indices and declared that the loans were inevitable.
“He said the conditions attached to the loans were liberal and affordable by the country. He assured the Senate President that the loans will be judiciously used.
“He also agreed that the details of the loans will be sent to the Senate when he writes a fresh request to the chamber. The President of the Senate assured the President that the “interest of the nation will be put above any other consideration.”
As at press time, it was learnt that the President has directed the Coordinator of the Economic Management Team, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to prepare the details of the loans for the Senate.
The source added: “Actually, Osinbajo has met with the Ministers of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma, and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo and other top officials of the DMO on the details.
“They have done the collation as required by the Senate. I think the details are being fine-tuned in the presidency in preparation of a fresh letter of request to the Senate by the President.”
Another source in the presidency said: “The loans are central to the fulfilment of the campaign promises of the President. We need it to re-fix key infrastructure nationwide.
“Without the loans, the nation’s economy may be grounded. The loans are alternatives to the sale of national assets.”
A ranking Senator, who spoke with our correspondent last night said: “We have not been briefed on the outcome of the talks between the President and the Senate President. But the Senate President is going to give us the details of what transpired at the Executive Session on Tuesday.
“We are not opposed to the loans, we will however not be rubber stamped into any decision we may regret in the future. The President must give us a comprehensive breakdown of the loans and the conditions attached.”
The Senate had about one and a half weeks ago rejected the President’s request for the $29.9billion loan because the details were not attached.
President Buhari’s letter to the Senate was titled “Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan”.
He said the external borrowing plan would be used for infrastructure, Agriculture, Health, Education, Water supply, Growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms etc.
He said: “The total cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960billion made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274billion, Special National Infrastructure projects $10.686billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5billion.”
The Senate Leader, Sen. Ali Ndume explained why the request was rejected on technical ground.
He said: “The problem came on a technical ground; it is supposed to go to the committee level and the committee is supposed to take a look at it.
“I am going to appeal to my colleagues to take a look at it again and see how we are going to bring it back. One of the technical things that were missing is that in the letter, if you read it, says: ‘attached is a draft’ but there was no attachment. So, these are some of the lapses that we will look at in bringing it back.
“We were thinking that there was going to be details but there was no detail of the borrowing plan. I believe that those will be included in the next one.”
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