By Dipo Olowookere
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Mr Clifford Ordia, has accused 10 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government of failing to appear before the panel to defend what they intend to get from the almost $30 billion loan request of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President had sent a letter to the upper chamber of the National Assembly (NASS) to seek its approval for a borrowing from external sources of up to $29.96 billion.
He had informed the parliament that this was part of the 2016-2018 borrowing plan of his administration. Mr Buhari had made the request at the eight Senate headed by Mr Bukola Saraki, but was rejected because of some issues.
At the inception of the ninth Senate, President Buhari made the request again and it was forwarded to the Senate Committee headed by Mr Ordia to look into the matter and submit his report within two weeks.
But at the plenary on Wednesday, Mr Ordia, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Edo State, cited Order 43 and informed the Senate that on December 17, 2019, his committee was mandated to consider Mr Buhari’s loan request and that he has been unable to complete his work because of some MDAs.
Addressing his colleagues yesterday, the lawmaker said out of the 18 beneficiary ministries, only eight of them have appeared before the committee, hence, the delay in the submission of the report.
He bemoaned the failure of these agencies to defend the proposed allocation of monies for projects under their supervision and captured in President Buhari’s loan request.
According to him, these MDAs Ministries of Education, Power, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Water Resources, Communication and Digital Economy, Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Agriculture.
In view of this, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts pleaded for an extension of the window period to two weeks.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, urged the Ministries who are yet to appear before the committee to do so between yesterday and Monday, February 10, 2020 and come forward with necessary information required by the Senate to reach a decision on President Buhari’s loan request before the National Assembly.
“Because you have come under order 43 on personal explanation, this is not open to debate.
“But let me advise that this Senate is committed to ensuring that such important issue like the foreign loan request of the executive needs to be taken with seriousness by both sides (the Executive and Legislature).
“The Senate is making every possible effort that we understand why the request. Therefore, we need details, we need information so that we take the appropriate decision as quickly as possible.
“So, I will ask these agencies that have not appeared before the committee to do so between now and Monday. So, I believe this is an advice that would be taken very seriously by these agencies,” the number three citizen of the nation said.
He, thereafter, gave the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts was given the two weeks extension it requested for through its Chairman, Mr Ordia.
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