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Buhari ignore critics, seeks House approval for $800m loan

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
17 May 2023   |   4:59 pm
President Muhammadu Buhari sought the approval of the House of Representatives on Wednesday for a fresh $800 million loan to finance the National Social Safety Network Programme (NSSNP).

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. Photo/FACEBOOK/SPEAKERGBAJA

***Reps adjourn plenary till after induction programme

President Muhammadu Buhari sought the approval of the House of Representatives on Wednesday for a fresh $800 million loan to finance the National Social Safety Network Programme (NSSNP).

The request was contained in a letter read by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, to lawmakers at the resumption of plenary.

Recall that the president had made a similar request to the Senate last week, a development that generated outcry.

In the letter dated May 2, 2023, and addressed to Gbajabiamila, the president told lawmakers that the Programme is intended to expand coverage of shock-responsive safety net support among the poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

According to him, “This will assist them in coping with the costs of meeting basic needs.”

“You may wish to note that, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the conditional cash transfer window of the programme will transfer the sum of N5,000 per month to 10.2 million, poor and low-income households for a period of six months with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals. In order to guarantee the credibility of the process, digital transfers will be made directly to beneficiaries’ account and mobile wallets”, Buhari stated.

The president noted that the NASSP being a social intervention programme, will stimulate activities in the informal sector, and improve the nutrition, health, education and human capital development of beneficiary households.

“Given the above, I wish to invite the House to kindly approve an additional loan facility to the tune of USD800 million to be secured from the World Bank, for the National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP). While hoping that this submission will receive expeditious consideration by the House”, Buhari added.

The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced in April that the federal government would secure an $800 million World Bank loan to be disbursed to about 50 million vulnerable Nigerians, or 10 million households, as part of its subsidy palliatives measures.

She said the disbursement is in anticipation of the planned subsidy removal in June.

Recall that the Debt Management Office (DMO) recently announced that Nigeria’s debt profile as of December 31 is N46.25 trillion, or $103.1 billion.

The DMO while giving the breakdown, stated that there was an increase of over N7 trillion from what the country owned in 2021.

Meanwhile, the House has again, adjourned plenary till after the ongoing induction programme of the 10th National Assembly.

The induction programme is expected to end on Saturday, May, 20

The resolution to adjourn the plenary was reached after a lawmaker, Ibrahim Isiaka raised a point of order relying on Order 6 (1) & (2), where he noted that his privilege as a member of the House is being breached due to the ongoing plenary that invariably denied him the opportunity of attending the induction training for lawmakers-elect currently taking place at the International Conference Centre.

He argued that while at plenary, he can’t benefit from the ongoing training.

He prayed that the House adjourn the plenary till after the induction training is concluded to enable the lawmakers-elect to participate in the training.

But speaking against the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Ahmed Idris Wase, noted that it is not the tradition of the House to adjourn the plenary to attend the induction training.

He also added that the adjournment is unnecessary as there are issues of national importance on the ground to be tackled by the House that may be affected by the adjournment.

However, another lawmaker, Tajudeen Yusuf, opined that fairness dictates that if plenary could be adjourned for lawmakers-elect that were in the first batch of the programme, those in the second batch should not be denied.

He said that having taken the route of allowing a group of lawmakers to attend the training, others should be allowed to, as well.

Gbajabiamila, before asking the question, noted that Isiaka raised a fundamental question, noting that the induction programme is a right, not a privilege.

According to him, if the lawmakers-elect in the first batch were allowed to attend the programme, the second batch must also be allowed, for fairness and equity.

He pleaded that the plenary should not be adjourned abruptly since the plenary has commenced and the business of the day is concluded.

The speaker put the question, and the motion was adopted.