External borrowings: Ndume slams NASS

2 months ago 38

Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, has expressed strong reservations about the National Assembly handling of the contentious request for external loans by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Ndume who spoke with newsmen, on Thursday, in Abuja said Nigerians have been critical of the approvals by the federal lawmakers because they were not being carried along.

The Senate last April approved fresh external loans of $1.5 billion and €995 million for the federal government.

While adopting the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, chaired by Senator Clifford Ordia, the Senators said loans were part of the external borrowings President Muhammadu Buhari had requested in May 2020, for financing various priority projects of the federal government and to support the state governments facing fiscal challenges.

On Tuesday, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, read a fresh request from President Buhari, seeking the Red Chamber statutory approval for external loans in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00, plus Euro €710,m and Grant Component of $125m.

Senator Ndume who noted that there was nothing objectionable about foreign loans provided the terms were favourable, however, maintained that the National Assembly should be painstaking in looking at requests from the presidency in order not to reinforce the narrative that the legislature has surrendered its independence to the executive arm of government.

He said: “What is the borrowing for and what are the terms?

“Borrowing is not a crime but when the rate of debt services increases which I understand is getting to 80 per cent to 90 per cent, you have to be cautious, you have to look for an alternative. There are some loans that are not just absolutely necessary, there are some that can be delayed there are some that can be negotiated or you renegotiate the terms.

“I think this is what the media should analyse and see whether it is necessary.

“Let us look at the implication, what the money is to be used for. We have infrastructural deficits in this country and all we hear is that when people come to Abuja and allocation is made you don’t see anything happening. For me, is better to borrow that money and do the road instead of giving it out for people to collect it and go and spend it without accountability

“What I am worried about again is the way the Senate is handling it. The Senate by definition is the house of deliberations when things like this come, we don’t just rush and say because you are to be seen to be good you just rush and approve it.

“You are supposed to look at it critically cross the “Ts,” dot the “I,” ask questions, carry the people you are representing along.

“But the way we do it make the people we represent look at us with suspicion. There is some situation where the time is short you have to act fast but you must carry Nigerians along.

“They call us rubber stamp, it is because we don’t carry people along. If for example there is an opportunity and it is for one week and the Senate needs to approve and we need to get it for Nigeria we can get in 24hrs because of the need and the emergency but if it can wait there is no urgency in it, we need to analyse.

“Like we rushed to approve certain borrowings until now we did not get the money. So why did we rush? These are the questions that come to my head most of the time.”

Reacting to allegations that the human rights of bandits were being violated by the military in its ongoing onslaughts against bandits and insurgents in the North West states, Senator Ndume who incidentally is the Chairman Senate Committee on Army dismissed the allegation as frivolous.

“Bandits don’t deserve sympathy. We don’t have to waste time to kill them and you are talking about human rights! Which rights? What right are you talking about? What about the lives of soldiers being killed?”

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