Fred Itua, Abuja
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola, has dismissed claims that President Muhammadu Buhari, is seeking a fresh foreign loan of $29.9 billion.
The senator representing Lagos West said President Buhari only requested a balance of $22.6 billion loan that was earlier rejected by the 8th Senate. He said about $6.3 billion was initially approved by the last National Assembly, but that a balance of the initial $29.9 billion would now be approved.
Adeola, who addressed journalists in Abuja at the weekend said: “The Federal Government is not asking the National Assembly to approve the sum of $29.96 billion loan. This is because in the last senate, about $6 billion had been approved for President Buhari to borrow out of the $29.96 billion.
“It is the balance of that figure that the government is asking us to approve for it in the borrowing plan, which is about $22.6 billion. The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, will organise a public hearing on the issue, if need be. In the alternative, we would engage the various agencies of the government to give them a clearer view of how the money would be utilised. All the monies being requested for borrowing would be attached to the execution of specific projects.
“We are not going to approve any loan plan that is not attached to project execution because that is the only way we can monitor the development and the proper utilisation of the money. The Buhari administration has five legacy projects which it planned to spend the money on.
“They include; the second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Mambila Power project, and the Kaduna-Abuja Highway. The approval of the loan would afford the government, an opportunity to achieve the completion of the projects before the end of the Buhari’s administration.
“The borrowing plan would assist the government to fulfil its promise to Nigerians. The plan is not only for one or two years, it is for the next four years. So, the loan would be taken in tranches. For instance, what the government desires to borrow in 2020 would be requested in 2020. That is why it is called a plan. The Senate will monitor its utilisation as soon as they are coming in,” Adeola said.”
He also called for the overhaul of the the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to make it more transparent and profitable.
“There should be a total overhauling of the NNPC. Every transaction of the NNPC must be made open. There should not be any transaction of the NNPC that should be shrouded in secrecy. The issue here is that NNPC importation of fuel is as a result of the non performance of our refinery.”