Tension in Senate over $22.7bn foreign loan request by Buhari
There was tension on the floor of the Senate on Thursday following the insistence of the opposition senators to know details of the $22.7bn foreign loan request from the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had asked the eighth National Assembly to approve $29.96bn for his regime, but Senator Bukola Saraki’s leadership of the Senate threw the document away then because no detail accompanied the request.
The request was presented again by the Buhari regime last December but was reduced to $22.7bn, claiming that the eighth National Assembly actually approved about $6bn out of the money.
Trouble started on Wednesday when the Chairman of the Local and Foreign Loans Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, submitted the report without the details of the projects to be funded with the money.
The Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, drew the attention of the Senate to the anomaly and requested the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to allow a clause by clause consideration of the loan request.
His suggestion was turned down by Lawan who said the report of the panel should not be subjected to debate, based on the rules of the Senate.
Obviously uncomfortable with the position of Lawan, Abaribe warned the presiding officer that going ahead to hoodwink the Senate into passing the multi-billion dollar loan request without the details would spell doom for the country.
The matter degenerated into a serious tension with the senators viewing the development along partisan lines.
The leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, then heeded the suggestion of Senator Gabriel Suswan that the Senate go into executive session for 15 minutes to enable the red chamber to resolve the confusion.