Senate rejects $350 million Kaduna loan request
• SERAP urges legislators to return illegal allowances
Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s request to secure a $350 million World Bank loan for Kaduna State was yesterday rejected by the Senate.It said the state government already has an existing backlog of $231 million debt with a low Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) status.The upper chamber added that if the new loan request was granted, Kaduna would be the most indebted state across the country.
It further cautioned the presidency and other relevant agencies and ministries not to circumvent the provisions of the extant debt management act.Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, reading the report at plenary also affirmed that the state government has not even convincingly shown how the loan will be judiciously used and beneficial to the people of the state.
Suffice it to say that none of the three senators from the state supported the loan request as they took turns in expressing their disapproval.Sani, who represents Kaduna central, said if the request is granted, the state’s debt stock will rise to $582.1 million.
Supporting the resolution, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi representing Kaduna North said the loan should not be approved because it would increase the financial burden of state and that the reasons for the request sent to the World Bank were not in tandem with the purpose for which the loan was sought.He further emphasised that the loan request for the Kaduna Development Policy Operation (DPO) was a misplacement of priorities.
Senator Danjuma La’ah representing Kaduna South also said the loan request lacks the mandate of his constituents.But deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’Allah, averred that it was a lesson for democracy, particularly with governors who refuse to consult with their people and representatives before seeking such massive loan approval.
Presiding Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in affirmation said, “a loan application for infrastructural development is not bad in itself but the failure to consult with representatives of the people before application was clearly undemocratic.”
In another development, the upper chamber condemned the fresh killings of not less than 66 persons in Zamfara State on Wednesday night.Though unconfirmed reports put the number of casualties at 66 and 15 but women and children were mostly affected.
Senator Kabiru Marafa representing Zamfara central senatorial district said the killings took place within his constituency and beyond. He lamented that young married women were forcefully separated from their husbands and gang-raped with impunity.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), yesterday urged members of the National Assembly to return voluntarily running costs and other allowances so far collected, and now declared as illegal by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).The call was predicated on the recent declaration by RMAFC that the N13.5 million each senator reportedly collects monthly as running cost
Each member of the House of Representatives also reportedly collects N10 million monthly as running cost.According to the commission, the payment is not covered by the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendments) Act 2008 governing emoluments of political office holders in the country.
But SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Timothy Adewale urged the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to “persuade their members to voluntarily return the amount so far collected.’’The group also urged them to use any returned funds to establish a trust fund to improve investment in education and health.
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