The Senate has rejected a $700 million (N287bn) loan request from the Ministry of Water Resources to fund some water projects under the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH).
This came 24 hours after a request from the Ministry of Health seeking the approval of $200 million loan for the procurement of mosquito nets and malaria medicines was rejected by the lawmakers.
The lawmakers, who took turns to fault the loan for SURWASH, asked the ministry to furnish the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt with details of loans collected so far for water projects in the ministry.
According to the chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, three different loans had been approved for various water projects.
Ordia said, “$450 million for the Ministry for the water project being financed by the Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under the Integrated Programme for Development also financed by the Africa Development Bank and Gurara water project.
“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects.”
The committee, therefore, resolved to summon the minister of water resources, Adamu Suleiman, to appear before it to give explanation on the loans collected so far
Obinna Ogba said that he was against granting approval for the loan because some loans had been collected for water projects and the lawmakers were yet to see results.
He said, “This loan, I don’t support this one again; enough is enough.”
Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe asked the criteria for selecting benefiting states, adding that details provided by the permanent secretary of the ministry were not enough to justify the loan.
Oloriegbe asked, “What are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how much water are you going to do.
“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity. Do we need a loan to do this function; you mean all states can’t do that on their own.”
Senator Sani Musa, while kicking against the loan, advised the committee to look at all the requests and pick the one that is necessary.
The Niger Senator said, “We should look at this loan and take the one that is necessary and we should abandon the one that is not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.”
Senator Brima Enagi demanded to be briefed on the state of Gurara project from the ministry.
Earlier, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack, who was unable to give explanation about the previous loans approved for water projects, told the Committee that SURWASH will last for five years.
She added that $640 million will be used for the project while the remaining $60 million will be used for capacity building.
The permanent secretary said that the proposal was negotiated with the World Bank in April 2022 and was approved at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 11, 2021.
States that will benefit from the $700 loan from the World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175 million.
The programme will deliver improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 communities to achieve open defecation-free status.
Prisoners To Get N1,000 As Daily Feeding
Meanwhile, prison inmates in Nigeria are to get N1,000 worth of daily feeding in the 2022 budget.
The government had budgeted N750 per day for the feeding of each prisoner but the Senate, through its Committee on Interior, jerked up the daily feeding cost to N1,000.
This is coming as the committee plans to meet the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on expeditious justice delivery in order to decongest the prisons.
The acting comptroller-general of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Idris Isa, had in his presentation before the Committee during 2022 budget defence session, said the N450 feeding cost for each of the prison inmates on daily basis had been jerked up to N750 as proposed in the 2022 budget estimates .
According to him, out of the 66,346 total inmates in custodial centres across the country, 47, 959 are awaiting trial.
This, he lamented, made most of the custodian centres to be congested and fall below the international standard of correctional services.
Moved by empathy and compassion, the committee chairman, senator Kashim Shettima ( APC Borno Central) and other members frowned at the N750 daily feeding cost proposed for each of the inmates across the custodial centres.
Moving the motion on behalf of the committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North), said N750, going by the current value of Naira and high costs of consumables, was inadequate.
“Mr Chairman, I will urge this committee to jerk up the proposed N750 feeding cost per day on each of the inmates at the custodial centres to at least N1,000.00 because no grown-up Nigeria today can survive with N750 per day as far as feeding is concerned,” he said.
Seconding the motion, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers West), said the N1,000 proposed should be the minimum and must be reflected in the final budget to be passed for the correctional service.
The committee chairman accordingly ruled in favour of the motion.
“The proposed N1,000 is the minimum and will surely be reflected in the budget to be passed by way of required appropriation,” he said.
On prison congestion, Senator Utazi moved a motion for the committee to have an interface with the CJN and NBA for a way out.
Betty Apiafi, who seconded the motion, added that a proper motion should be sponsored on the floor of the Senate by any member of the committee to that effect.
The chairman, in his remarks, said legislative action will surely be taken in that direction for required synergy among the arms of government.
“It is very worrisome for the percentage of inmates awaiting trial across the various correctional centres to be 80 per cent while those actually convicted is 20 per cent.
“This committee shall surely meet the CJN, NBA and other stakeholders in justice delivery in the country for lasting solutions to the problem,” he said.