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Ekweremadu, others kick over South East’s exclusion from $22.7b loan

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Eight days after the Senate approved the $22.7 loan request for President Muhammadu Buhari, federal lawmakers from the South East geo-political zone yesterday called on the leadership of the National Assembly to accommodate the region in the facility.

An exclusive report by The Guardian last Monday exposed how the entire area and even Edo lost out completely in the distribution of projects to be covered by the credit.

Led by former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, the legislators after meeting with Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila of the House of Representatives, clarified why they had failed in their earlier push.

The lawmakers explained that most of them were away on “oversight functions” outside Abuja on the day the loan was approved by the upper legislative chamber.

They were however evasive when asked to mention the particular point of assurance they obtained from the presiding officers.The legislator nonetheless noted that since the facility had not gotten concurrence yet from the lower legislative chamber, there was an opportunity to make a case for the inclusion of the South East.

With the exception of Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, who attempted to get the chamber to debate the details of the loan request, no other senator from the zone spoke when the proposal was approved by the lawmakers.

Ekweremadu stated: “Regrettably last Thursday, the Senate passed the borrowing plan which excluded the entire South East. We like to thank our colleagues who stood their ground and made spirited efforts to ensure there is equitable distribution. Some of us were not in the chambers. We went for the INEC retreat on electoral reform in Lagos.

“We met as a Caucus of the South East of the National Assembly last night after consulting with our people and getting their feelings regarding the issue. We decided that the best approach would be a constructive engagement with the National Assembly leadership.”

“This afternoon (yesterday), we had a very good conversation with the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and we had a meaningful discussion. They showed not just concern but commitment to addressing these issues and they have promised that the matter would either be revisited particularly as it has not been passed in the House. They said the appropriate thing would be done and our people’s fears would be assuaged.”


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