The 9th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Lawan has said that it was necessary for the house to consent to President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent loan request so as to save the country’s economy from declining.
Naija News recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2020 forwarded a letter to the National Assembly seeking for the approval of a fresh $5.5 billion loan, noting that the loan wouldn’t be a burden to Nigeria.
The president’s loan request, however, received condemnation from citizens as many cried out that the country could be totally sold out from the huge debt incurred by the present administration.
Reacting to critics from Nigerians in regards to the $5.5 billion fresh loan request approved to President Buhari, the senate president noted that twenty million jobs could be lost in the country should the assembly refused to consent to the request.
In a statement during the last weekend, Lawan argued that the loan was not for frivolous reasons but to be use for the development of the country.
He added that the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic in the country has wrecked the country’s economy and as well negatively affected citizens, hence the need for the loan in other to salvage the economy.
Lawan statement reads in part; “We are not doing that in a frivolous way. We are very mindful, we are very patriotic on the way and manner we grant or endorse these requests and we are also very meticulous. Our Committees on Foreign and Domestic Loans have gone through all the papers to ensure that there is justification for those loans. And in fact, in the Senate, we didn’t pass all the loan requests.”
“We passed only the request for $5.513b. There was $1.5b request for states. We could not see the justification and we said no. So, it was not everything that was requested that was was granted by the Senate.”
“I want to assure Nigerians that we would always be guided by the need for our country to be prudent; by the need for our government to be prudent and efficient in the deployment of resources. And of course, in the process, we should also explore other means of funding our projects like the partnership with the private sector. All we need to do is to create the environment for the private sector to participate.”
“Well, we have a shortfall of almost $14.2b funding gap for 2020 Budget. And with COVID-19, came so many negative things that have visited adverse outcomes on our people. We didn’t make hay while the sun shone when we had our crude selling for over $140 per barrel in the past. We didn’t diversify the economy, we didn’t invest in the real sectors of the economy and most of the resources were frittered. Now, we have come to a point where we have to address the infrastructure gap that we have but the resources are so low. Crude at one point was selling for $10 and $11 per barrel, especially when this COVID-19 thing started around March.”
“We have very significant projects that we need to put in place like the Second Niger Bridge, the Mambilla Hydro-Power Project; the East-West Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos- Kano Rail Line; Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line and so many other projects that are as well important. But we don’t have the money.”
“Tell me, if you don’t have the resources and you still needed these projects because with some of them you can pay back what you owe once they are operational. Would you because you don’t want to obtain the loans, you will say let me abandon these projects. Or, you will say I will take the loans but I will ensure that all the loans I take and every other resource I put on these projects are properly, efficiently and prudently applied and deployed,” he said.
Speaking about Nigeria’s current economy, the senate president reiterated that if the loans were not approved as requested by the president, the nation may slip into recession.
He said, “For us in the National Assembly, we are conscious of the fact that this economy, as affected by COVID-19 if it persists, you could lose over 20million jobs in this country. The economy could go into serious recession probably up to -4% or even -5 % of the GDP. So, you need to have the resources to invest so that the economy does not go into recession and also to ensure that people don’t lose their jobs. Therefore, when the Federal Government was able to get concessionary, multilateral or bilateral loans with very favourable conditions of maybe 1%, 10 years or 20-year moratorium, what can you do? You cannot run away from your challenges.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Senate President while countering claims that the 9th Senate under his leadership has become a rubber stamp for President Muhammadu Buhari, agreeing with everything the executive says, noted that the legislative arm of government is independent of the executive arm.
Source: Naija News