Senator Ali Ndume, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, has berated the senate for hasty approval of request for loans by President Muhammadu Buhari. The senator protested that the Senate deliberates and approves piling debt and borrowing on the request of the president for the federal government without critical assessment of the loans details. He added that the federal lawmakers in their rush to urgently approve the request for loans by the president do not carry the people they represent along.
Ndume decried the increasing external borrowing and the rising debt profile of the country, chiding the Senate leadership for the speed at which the federal legislature approves every request for loans by the President.
He further berated the senate leadership for lack of thorough scrutiny of loans request before giving approval. He complained of the burden of debt servicing and failure to scrutinize the interest rates.
The chairman, senate committee on Army noted that undermining thorough evaluation of loans proposal aligns with public view that the current National Assembly is a “Rubber-Stamp”. He lamented that the process makes people suspect the lawmakers.
He further said that there were loans the senate rushed to approve but till date the government has not received the funds.
Ndume had declared: “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.
“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.
“It 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 “Is,” ask questions, carry the people you are representing along.
“But the way we do it, makes 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 24 hours 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.”
It will be recalled that the Senate had approved the Federal Government’s 2018-2020 external borrowing rolling plan of $8.3 billion and 490 million euros in July this year.
President Buhari also made fresh request to the senate to approve external loans of $4,054,476,863.00, including Euro €710 million and Grant Component of $125 million.
The request generated controversies across the country through the week.
However, President Buhari explained that the new loans are necessary for “emerging needs” and to fund some “critical projects”.