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Reps quiz Ahmed, Fashola, Saraki, others over use of $22.7b foreign loan

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[files] Babatunde Fashola (Works and Housing)

The House of Representatives yesterday questioned four members of the President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet over fresh move to secure a $22.72b foreign loan for the development of infrastructure in the country.

Ministers who appeared before the Safana Dayyabu-led Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management are Zainab Ahmed (Finance), Babatunde Fashola (Works and Housing), Gbemisola Saraki (Transportation, State), Mohammed Bello (FCT) and Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha.

The ministers in their presentations justified the loan request, arguing that it was necessitated by the need to fund the budget, improve the nation’s infrastructure and create jobs.

Ahmed, who acknowledged that Nigeria has the challenge of raising money to fund the budget, assured that the loan would be used in an open and transparent manner.

Speaking, Fashola explained that the loan was required to execute 524 ongoing road projects across the country.

On her part, Sakari was quizzed by Emeka Azubogu on the rationale for the coastal rail track stretching from Lagos, Shagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ore, Benin City, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo, Calabar, Agbor, Ugwashi-Uku, Onitsha, and Asaba.

She said argument on the high cost of the project does not hold water, as Nigerians in the coastal lines deserve the infrastructure, which would be of huge economic benefit to the country.

Besides, the House also ordered an immediate investigation of the circumstances that led to the invasion of the Federal High court premises in Abuja by unidentified persons in an attempt to arrest Omoyele Sowore.

Adopting a motion under matters of urgent importance sponsored by Ndudi Elumelu during plenary presided by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, the House mandated its committees on National Security and Intelligence, Judiciary and Human Rights to investigate the incidence and report back to the House within two weeks.

Elumelu, who is the House Minority Leader, described the incidence, which led to physical assault on Sowore and Olawale Bakare in court, as the highest act of sacrilege against the judiciary and disrespect for the rule of law.

He said it was unfortunate that the incidence disrupted judicial proceedings and made the presiding judge abandon her duty post due to safety concerns.

Meanwhile, a glimmer of hope emerged yesterday for sanity on Nigerian roads, as a bill seeking to reduce frequent accidents by petroleum trucks on highways passed second reading in the Senate.

Accidents caused by petroleum tankers in recent times have claimed several lives and property worth billions of Naira in different parts of the country.

The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South), seeks to make consequential provisions towards safe transportation of petroleum products across the country.

He argued that the bill became necessary to provide a legal framework peculiar to that segment of the transport sector and to further strengthen existing collaborations among government agencies on transportation of petroleum products by road.


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