There is confusion over President Muhammadu Buhari’s $29.9bn loan request, which was rejected by the Senate on November 1, 2016.
It would be recalled that the President in a letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, titled ‘Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan, had asked the legislature to approve his administration’s external borrowing plan of $29.960bn which was rejected.
The loan which was to cover the funding of projects between 2016 and 2018 was rejected by the Senate who asked the President to provide further details on it.
However, there is confusion now on the status of the loan request and whether the executive had provided the details as requested by the Senate. A check by Punch at the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office met a brick wall. It is believed the ministry is saddled with the responsibility of providing the missing details.
But, a check with the Director of Information in the Finance Ministry, Salisu Dambatta, on whether the details had been provided, he referred the correspondent to the Debt Management Office.
“I suggest you direct all your enquiries about the $29.9bn loan to the DMO. That is the agency of government that is in charge of debt management in the country,” he said.
But, nothing came out from the Director-General, DMO, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo office who was not available to provide answers.
When contacted again, Dambatta said the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters should be contacted.
He said, “The Ministry of Finance didn’t submit the loan request to the National Assembly directly. It was the Presidency that did that. The President has a Special Adviser on National Assembly matters. Find out from him.
“There are procedures that must be followed. We did not submit the loan request directly to the National Assembly.”
The Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said he had no further information on the request.
He stated, “I have no further information other than where it (the $29bn loan request) stopped the last time. The Senate had reservations about it; the matter is still pending before the House of Representatives.
“The Senate had expressed reservations about it and had remitted it for reconsideration. It is under consideration by the various ministries responsible. That is all I can say.”
The Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Akpandem James, said the mandate of the ministry did not cover the issue of the loans.
He said, “The relevant ministry as regards the issue of loan is the ministry of finance. We don’t deal with loans. Anything that has to do with loans is ministry of finance. Any loan matter should be directed to ministry of finance.”
The status of the loan is not known yet as the ministries and parastalats that should provide details have no idea of the matter. Whether the Senate has received a revised loan request is still unknown as it seems like the Federal Government do not consider it important anymore.
Speaking with The PUNCH in Abuja, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, stated that the hands of the House were tied on the issue of the loan as it could not act alone.
Namdas, a member of the All Progressives Congress from Adamawa State, added, “There is no point for us to engage in a futile exercise.
“I will say that the loan issue is not dead, but since the Senate has already rejected it, we will wait until the questions raised by the Senate are addressed.
“This is because if we go ahead and approve it and the Senate withholds approval, the problem will still be there.
“So, let the Ministry of Finance address the issue of details raised by the Senate and we will take it up from there.”
Culled from Punch