The senate has rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $29.96 billion from external sources. The senate voted overwhelmingly against it on Tuesday.
When Ali Ndume, senate leader, called Buhari’s communication on the request to the senate for consideration, Bukola Saraki, senate president, put the request to a vote, and senators shouted it down with a loud “nay.”
Last week, Buhari had asked the senate for approval to borrow the sum of $29.960bn.
He also sought an amendment of the 2016 budget, so that a total of N180bn could be moved from the special intervention fund to critical items in the appropriation Act.
“I wish to refer to the above subject and to submit that attached draft of the federal government 2016-2018 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval by the national assembly to ensure prompt implementation of projects,” he wrote in a letter to the senate.
“The projects cut across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms among others.
“The total of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960 billion made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion special national infrastructure projects $10.686 billion Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and federal government budget support of $3.5 billion.
“I would like to underscore the fact the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluations as well as the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation and poverty reduction and protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segment of the Nigerian society.
“The projects and programmes will be implemented in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“Considering the huge infrastructure deficit currently being experienced in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources and the inability of our annual budgetary provisions to bridge the infrastructure deficit.”
“Given the emergency nature of the facilities and the need to consolidate the peace and return the region to normalcy and considering the time it will take to get national assembly’s approvals.
“It has become inevitable to request for the NASS leadership approval pending the consideration and approval of the 2016-2018 borrowing plan by the national assembly to enable us disburse these funds immediately.”
But the upper legislative chamber kicked out the proposal without a debate.
Last week, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the national assembly to reject the proposal “because it will plunge the country into huge debts”.