The Senate has approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow a sum of $22.7 billion.
Members of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly approved the request after a heated debate on Thursday in Abuja,
This followed the presentation of the report of the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on the 2016 -2018 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan, by Senator Clifford Ordia.
In his contribution, Senator Solomon Adeola commended the committee for working within the time frame given.
He, however, noted that Senator Ordia informed the Senate that there was an item that was erroneously added and questioned whether the figure has increased the size of the load or reduced it?
Another senator, Adamu Aliero, asked what purpose the loan would serve and what to expect in return, saying nothing was said about the North East.
“The application of the loan is lopsided, and I have not seen why huge loans like this will be concentrated in only one section of the country.
“We should include critical projects that should be covered on this road,” the lawmaker recommended.
Giving an insight into the loan, Senate President Ahmad Lawan explained that the load intended to finance the nation’s capital budget.
He urged his colleagues to be conscious of the need to have the capital aspect of the budget funding.
“It is important that the executive takes note of those areas that are left out and in the next phase, we consider those areas that are left out,” said Lawan.
But the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, disagreed with the Senate President on the aspect of the capital funding of the budget.
“The position is we approve some of this. It is when we get to approving the capital projects that we can determine which of the projects will improve our economy,” he said.
Lawan, thereafter, responded by making clarification on his comment, saying the lawmakers would vote on the recommendation.
He stressed that there were no clauses that would warrant the Senate to go clause by clause, adding that the lawmakers could only vote on the recommendation of the committee which has been listed in the report.
After a series of arguments on the report, the lawmakers went into an executive session and later resumed plenary after about one hour.
At the resumed proceedings, the Senate President said the Executive Session specifically deliberated on the issues bordering on workings of the legislative chamber, and the National Assembly in general.
This led to the approval of the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
Lawan, however, stressed that the Senate would follow very strictly how the executive arm of government used the loan.
“We will ensure that no single dollar is spent on any other thing other than what is indicated here.
“The loans will have a positive influence on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of this country,” the Senate President said.