$30bn external loan: 3 years after, Buhari returns rejected request to Senate

A letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking legislative approval for fresh external borrowing was read to the gathering of senators by President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday.

The Senate President, while reading the letter addressed to him by President Buhari was, however, silent on the total amount being sought by the latter.

President Buhari in the letter, however, recalled that he was merely resubmitting a similar request sent to the eighth National Assembly for their approval which was shut down under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, immediate past Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.

In his ‘fresh’ request tagged ‘Request for the National Assembly to reconsider and approve the Federal Government’s 2016-2018 external borrowing plan’, President Buhari stated.

“I, hereby, request the resolution of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016-2018 external borrowing plan as well as relevant projects under this plan.

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“Specifically, the Senate is invited to note that while I had sent the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan to the eighth National Assembly in September 2016, this plan was not approved in its entirety by the legislature.

“Only the Federal Government’s emergency project for the North-East, four state projects and one China Exim Bank assisted railway modernisation project for the Lagos-Ibadan segment was approved out of a total of 39 projects.”

The letter further explained that “the outstanding projects that were not approved by the legislature nevertheless are critical to the delivery of the government policies and programme relating to power, mining roads, agriculture, health, water and educational sector.

“These outstanding projects are well advanced in terms of their preparation, consistent with the 2016 debt sustainability analysis undertaken by the debt management office and were approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2016 under the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan.

‘’Accordingly, I have attached for your kind consideration, relevant information from the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the specific outstanding projects under the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan for which legislative approval is currently sought.

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‘’I have also directed the Minister of Finance to be available to provide any necessary detailed information or clarification which you may require to facilitate on prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan.”

Nigerian Tribune’s investigations revealed that the eighth National Assembly rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for authorisation to borrow about $30 billion.

The requests made in two separate letters to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dogara, President Buhari sought the National Assembly’s approval for external borrowing plan of $29.960 billion to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.

He further disclosed that the external loan, the biggest in Nigeria’s history, would be tied to specific projects, cutting across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation.

He also noted that the projects would help mitigate poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms, among others.

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