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Senate may okay N500 billion coronavirus intervention fund today

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• Reps sit Tuesdays to jumpstart economy
• APC ex-spokesman wants IMF to reject $3.4b fresh loan

The Senate may have resolved to pass the N500 billion intervention fund requested by President Muhammadu Buhari to defray expenses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the upper legislative is resuming plenary today to address the issue.

It was, however, learnt yesterday that a good number of senators had vowed not to give a blanket approval except the executive showed evidence of transparency in the execution of the money.

To douse the tension, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, called an emergency meeting of principal officers yesterday afternoon.

The Guardian gathered that today’s session might be a departure from previous sittings, as several steps had been taken to make the gathering compliant with the health regulations already put in place to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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Confirming the resumption of plenary, the Clerk to the Senate, Nelson Ayewo, in a statement yesterday said while the lawmakers are to be in the hallowed chamber at 10.00 am, staff of the National Assembly as well as legislative aides were to work from home.

On the N500 billion loan request, it was further learnt that the appropriate organs of the executive would be made to provide answers to questions regarding sources of the fund and the mode of implementation before approval could be given upon satisfactory responses.

Also, as the House of Representatives reconvenes today, the green chamber said it was exploring means to jumpstart the economy brought to its knees by the COVID-19 scourge.

A media aide to Gbajabiamila, Musa Kirshi, said the chamber would strictly observe the guidelines provided by the NCDC as well as new measures taken by the House to avoid the spread of the infectious disease.He added that the lower legislative chamber would sit every Tuesday to provide legislative support for the country’s fight against the epidemic.

Meanwhile, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has enjoined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other foreign organisations not to grant another loan to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the name of COVID-19.

In statement, Frank warned that granting the $3.4 billion loan request was tantamount to mortgaging the future of unborn Nigerians. “I hereby advise the IMF and other organisations to be cautious not to facilitate corruption in Nigeria. The proposed $3.4billion loan given to Nigeria to fight COVID-19 is questionable. General Buhari’s government has collected several loans from China and World Bank, but it doesn’t reflect among Nigerians,” he claimed.

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