Senate rejects president’s request to borrow N9.12tr
• Flays N500b social scheme’s implementation
• Saraki saves envoy-nominees
President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to borrow $29.960 billion (about N9.12 trillion) suffered a setback yesterday as the Senate rejected it.
The lawmakers also alleged the mismanagement of the N500 billion social intervention programme. They asked the executive to “present a clear framework that does not marginalise any segment of our society no matter where they may be in the country and present the same to the National Assembly for passage into law.”
In rejecting Buhari’s request for approval to take $29.96 external loan, the upper legislative chamber explained that it was not comfortable with the absence of the breakdown of the borrowing plan.
At the commencement of the plenary session, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume moved a motion that “the Senate should consider the request of the President on the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Rolling Plan.” The motion was swiftly seconded by Emmanuel Bwacha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP-Taraba State).
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki then put the question on whether the chamber should consider the request to vote. The response was overwhelmingly in the negative. And when Saraki repeated the question, the rejection became louder. So he ruled that “the Nay has it.”
Ndume, at a press conference shortly after the Senate session, said the rejection of the president’s request was also due to the failure to attach a comprehensive borrowing plan to the request as indicated in Buhari’s earlier letter.
In the letter to the two chambers of the National Assembly to approve the loan request last week, Buhari had stated: “I wish to refer to the above subject and to submit the attached draft of the Federal Government 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) plan for consideration and early approval by the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of projects.”
The Senate said Buhari merely sent a letter and failed to attach the draft borrowing plan.According to another senator, the request was rejected because of its anticipatory nature:
Also yesterday, the Senate flayed the management of the N500 billion special intervention fund and urged the executive to take another look at the programme to incorporate manual registration of beneficiaries from all wards and local governments in the country;
Adopting a motion sponsored by Ndume, the upper chamber urged the presidency to ensure that the scheme is implemented to reach the poorest in the communities.
The lawmakers also asked that “a clear channel of accountability for the implementation of the programme be created and be audited on a continuous basis and its report presented to the National Assembly.”
Presenting the motion earlier, Ndume said N80 billion had already been taken out of the N500 billion without any explanation on what the money was spent on.
“The Senate is concerned that the implementation of such a huge programme is now being carried out in the same manner as the other failed social interventions funds like the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme SURE-P, without a proper framework which led to their failures,” he said.
In another development yesterday, Saraki prevented the Senate from rejecting the list of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees sent to the chamber last week.
Ndume had moved a motion for the confirmation of the nominees by the Senate but when Saraki put the request to a voice vote, there was a loud shout of ‘nay.’ He announced that he was going to repeat the question and when he did, the lawmakers re-echoed the same ‘nay’.
Saraki paused for about 10 seconds, after which he hit the gavel and returned a positive verdict, saying “the yes have it.”
There was, however, no protest against the Senate president’s ruling.It was later learnt that Buhari’s refusal to address the lopsided appointments in the career ambassadorial list sent to the Senate in July, necessitated the attempted rejection of the non-career list.
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