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Osinbajo seeks Reps’ approval of $1.492b loan for 10 states

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Lawmakers query Shell, Agip over alleged $17b crude oil, gas theft

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday sought the approval of the House of Representatives for a $1,492, 400,000.00 loan for 10 states. The loan, according to the letter dated May 25, 2017 and addressed to the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, is part of the 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.

The loan will boost the financial capacity of the benefitting states to execute their projects and programmes for the development of their areas. They are Kastina, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kano, Enugu, Plateau, Ondo, Kaduna, Ogun and Abia.

Osinbajo urged the legislature to separate the states’ projects from the items listed in the borrowing plan, so as to give them accelerated consideration. “You may wish to know that the request for the separation of the states’ projects from the list became imperative in view of the current economic realities in the country and the pressing needs of these states to provide infrastructural and social amenities for their citizens.

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“The total loan for the states being presented for special consideration and approval is $1,492,400,000.00,” he wrote. A breakdown of the loan request shows that Kaduna and Ogun would get $350 million each from the World Bank for Development Policy Operation (DPO) while Ebonyi and Abia would receive $70 million and $100 million from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

Also, while Katsina would receive $110 million for a health system project, Jigawa would get $32.4 million for an integrated rural development project, Ebonyi to receive $80 million for a ring road project and Kano will get $200 million for an integrated agricultural and water development project, all from the Islamic Development Bank.

The $200 million tranche for Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project (NUWSRP) in Enugu, Kano, Plateau and Ondo would come from the French Development Agency.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Public Accounts has queried the National Universities Commission (NUC) for failing to remit N72.152m unspent balance of three years appropriation. The years are 2008, 2009 and 2010.

At an investigative hearing, following three queries brought against the commission by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, the committee also blamed the NUC for failure to remit N35.388 million it generated as Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) for 2009 and 2015.

In the AGF’s query based on its audited accounts for the year ended 31st December, 2011, the commission is also being rebuked for the non-remittance of N21.304 million.

To this end, the Chairman of the committee, Kingsley Chinda announced the expansion of a sub- committee that had been set up in the seventh assembly to look into the queries.

In that assembly, Kehinde Odeneye, who is also a member of the committee, was chairman of the panel. According to Chinda, he is to further chair the ad hoc committee, which would now consist of additional five members.

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Odeneye had informed members that the sub-committee had begun its assignment shortly after it was constituted, but was yet to conclude its findings, especially as it relates to allegations of non-remittances.

The Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed confirmed Odeneye-led panel’s engagements with the commission, stating that during the interactions, most of the issues and amounts quoted by the AGF in the queries had been reconciled.

Also yesterday, the lawmakers queried oil giants, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and Agip Nigeria over the non-disclosure of crude oil deals from January 2011 to December 2014.

The query was specifically handed down to the oil firms by the Abdulrazak Namdas-led ad hoc committee probing into how $17 billion was allegedly stolen from undeclared crude oil and liquefied natural gas within the aforementioned period.

Representatives of the oil firms – Nike Olafimilian and Joke Aliyu– incurred the wrath of the lawmakers after they declined to clarify the extent of their firm’s involvement in the lodgement of money in government coffers from crude oil sales within the period under review.

Aliyu, who stood in for Agip particularly argued that notwithstanding the powers of the committee to probe the issue, she was constrained not to divulge information required since the issue was still a subject of litigation between her firm and the Federal Government.

Namdas, who was visibly livid over her position, retorted, declaring that the litigation between the firm and the executive arm could not take away the power of the legislature to expose corrupt practices detrimental to the wellbeing of the citizenry.

A member of the committee, Igariwe Iduma Enwo insisted that the oil firm could not be spared from probe under the pretext of a pending litigation. “We don’t know the issues, there are no court processes. We don’t even have the statement of claims. You are hiding under the cover of litigation to avoid an investigation to uncover corrupt practices.”

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Namdas also summoned the managing director of Ecobank Plc to appear before the committee today to state his own side of the story over questionable crude oil sales deposits within the period under review.

The House is now waiting patiently for the Acting President Osinbajo to assent to the 2017 Appropriation Act. The Chief Whip, Pally Iriase who briefed reporters ahead of the second anniversary of the 8th House of Representatives remarked that there was no cause for alarm since the 30 days grace open to the Acting President to assent to the budget bill as prescribed by the constitution was yet to elapse.

Flanked by Namdas and Emmanuel Orkev-Jev who are both the chairmen of the committees on Media and Public Affairs, and Rules and Business, Iriase said the House had chosen “to keep its fingers crossed” since the Acting President has not declined to assent to the budget as was the case in 2016.


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