The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday kicked against President Muhammadu Buhari’s request from the National Assembly to approve his administration’s plan to borrow $4,054,476,863, €710,000,000 and a grant component of $125,000,000 (over N3 trillion).
Buhari, in a letter he addressed to the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, asked for consideration and approval of an external loan to fund projects captured under the 2018-2021 borrowing plan.
The president’s letter dated August 24, 2021, which was an addendum to an earlier one, was read during plenary yesterday by Lawan.
Buhari, in the letter, explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 federal government borrowing plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.
He explained that the amount would be used to fund federal and state governments’ projects cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID-19 Response efforts.
According to the president, the projects which are spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, would bring about employment generation and poverty reduction, as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
The letter reads: “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward and addendum to the proposed Borrowing Plan.
“The Projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the Borrowing Plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and cover both the Federal and States Government projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID-19 Response efforts.
But the PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerians might eventually not have a nation and a patrimony that they can freely call their own after the APC which has less than two years to vacate office.
The party noted: “The PDP laments that with the N33.107 trillion debt already accumulated by President Buhari and the APC with nothing to show but decayed infrastructure and a depressed economy, an addition N5.62 trillion borrowing proposed by Buhari for the 2022 budget and now a fresh N2.66 trillion external loan, the APC will be hanging over N40 trillion debt on the nation, with no clear-cut repayment plan.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to personal pockets of their corrupt leaders.
“Given their incompetence, corruption and manifest nonchalant attitude to the plights of Nigerians, the APC and its administration have not shown any commitment towards wealth creation as expected of any responsible government.
“Rather, they have resorted to reckless borrowing, pillaging of our national vault and suppression of our productive sectors; a development that have crippled our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the extent that our naira, which the PDP handed over to the APC at N167 to a dollar, has now collapsed to a dismal and all-time low of N557 to a dollar under the APC.”
The PDP however called on the National Assembly to save the nation by rising above partisan sentiments to reject the latest request by President Buhari for a fresh foreign loan.
The party also urged the National Assembly to immediately commence an open investigative hearing on “all the loans collected by President Buhari especially with allegations that they are being diverted to the personal pockets of APC leaders, the cabal in the Presidency as well as APC government functionaries and their cronies.”
PDP Governors Endorse Reps’ Version Of Electronic Transmission Of Result
In another development, the PDP Governors’ Forum has asked the National Assembly to adopt the version of the House of Representatives on the electronic transmission of election results which vests power on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine what procedure should be used.
Governors of the opposition party who rejected the Senate version said it subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Assembly which usurps the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence.
While asking the lawmakers to set up the conference committee to harmonise the versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bills passed by both chambers, the PDP governors also urged the National Assembly to jettison the provisions seeking to force all political parties to adopt only one method of conducting.
The National Assembly which resumed from its recess is expected to set up its conference committee that will harmonise the different versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bills passed by both Chambers.
But in a statement signed by the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the governors told the federal lawmakers to hearken to the wishes of Nigerians and be guided by the national interest, particularly on the issue of electronic transmission of results.
The Sokoto State governor added: “The Forum insists that a further delay in passing and assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will do grievous and irreparable damage to preparations for the conduct of the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives (House) Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of Electronic Transmission.
“The Senate version which subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission and National Assembly is manifestly a usurpation of the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence.”