There was confusion in the Senate, on Thursday, as the Senators began discussions details of the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing to the tune of $22.7 billion, to be spent by the Federal Government, to execute key infrastructural projects.
Confusion set in soon after the presentation of the report of the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts by the Chairman, Senator Clifford Ordia, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Edo Central.
After the presentation, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, insisted that the Lawmakers should go to the recommendations and vote.
This did not go down well with the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South, who raised it that there must be line by line consideration of the report and the recommendations, before the voting process.
The Chamber became tensed, as the debate was now between Lawan and Abaribe.
There was sharp disagreement between them against the backdrop that while the President of the Senate wanted an outright approval of the loan, the Minority vehemently kicked against that. To save the situation, Senator Gabriel Suswam, PDP, Benue, asked that the Senate should go into an Executive session for 10 minutes, where those knotty issues of lopsided allocation of projects would be resolved.
However, the President of the Senate rejected the call for a closed session, stressing that, this would have happened prior to the plenary session, adding that, “we are at the point of no return”.
This did not go down well with Abaribe, as he stood up to speak again, where he now cited Order 14 (C) of the Senate Standing Orders, as amended. Lawan then made a U-Turn on his position, and called for a closed-door session.
Recall, that President Muhammadu Buhari, had on November 28, written to the Senate, again, requesting for the approval of the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing to the tune of $30 billion, to be spent by the Federal Government to execute key infrastructural projects across the country.
The letter, which was dated November 26, 2019, was read on the floor of the Red Chamber, by the President of the Senate, during plenary.
In the letter, President Buhari explained that it became imperative to represent the request, because the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request, forwarded to it in September 2016.