From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
MAJORITY Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has described Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose’s letter to the Chinese government asking it to refuse President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for a $2 billion loan as an abuse of the right to freedom of speech and affront to the constitution.
Gbajabiamila, in a letter to President Buhari yesterday, called on him to ignore Fayose, saying, “I ask, therefore, that you excuse the vituperations and exuberance of the governor as just that.”
The lawmaker noted that Fayose’s position on the loan from China, showed that he was not fully aware of how the Federal Government manages its debt.
The lawmaker reminded the governor that the Federal Government has a 3-year budget rolling plan captured under the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
He further explained that the MTEF 2016- 2018 has a borrowing component in which the legislature approved for the President to incur both domestic and foreign loans for the purposes of infrastructure development and deficit financing.
“This MTEF was passed unanimously by the National Assembly including the six House members and three Senators from Ekiti, the governor’s state. I am, therefore, dismayed, as many members of the National Assembly are, that the governor would claim that the loan sought from your government did not have parliamentary imprimatur,” the House Leader noted.
“It is also a fallacy that the country’s debt is being financed with 25 per cent of the Federal Governments annual budget as there is something in economic and legislative borrowing parlance called nominal debt service where a portion of borrowed money in this case about 1.3trillion stays within the country’s financial system.
“Such are the intricacies of national debts, aids and loans. Surprisingly, the governor refers to a 2 billion dollar loan as opposed to a 6 billion dollar investment package. This betrays the fact that he is not fully seized of the facts of the transaction between the two countries,” he further said.
The lawmaker advised Governor Fayose to abide by the 7th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, which outlined the role of a governor.
According to the lawmaker, the duties and responsibilities of a governor are clearly spelt out in the Nigerian Constitution and they do not include negotiating loans on behalf of the country nor do they extend to foreign affairs or economic diplomacy.
He said: “Indeed the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of our Republic contains the oath of office sworn to by the governor of a state in assumption of office and it states:
“……..that I will exercise the authority vested in me as governor so as not to impede or prejudice the authority lawfully vested in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.