The Presidency has explained that the $30 billion loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari was not intended to be utilised by the Federal Government alone. It said that the request includes loans by states for various projects.
The Presidency also said that consultations were going on among relevant stakeholders to resolve the controversies that led to National Assembly’s refusal to approve the loan request.
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who made these explanations during a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, pointed out that the loan was not outrightly rejected by the Senate, but sent back to the Presidency for further consultations.
The Senate had, on November 1, rejected the proposal by Buhari to engage in external borrowing of $30 billion. According to the president, the loan, if obtained by the Federal Government, would be used for execution of key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018. Enang further explained that there were lots of misunderstanding on the purpose and benefits of the loan to the economy and Nigerians in particular.
He said: “On the request of Mr. President for approval to take a loan, remember that this $30 billion request was what was to be spent in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It was a projection for three years.
Therefore, the Senate has remitted it back to Mr. President requesting further explanation. The legislative process is still pending. “I am sure you observed in recent times the level of consultation between the arms of government and also between the ministers and the committees.
These are all intended to address and resolve any question, which could be thorny in any of the requests made by the executive. “Again, don’t also forget that the request of Mr. President was not only for the Federal Government to spend. So, the request of the various state governments to take loan for various projects is also contained therein.”
The presidential aide said the approval of the loan would be of great benefit to the country in many ways, noting that it would help to resolve some of the economic challenges being faced in the country currently.
He commended the National Assembly for its cooperation and collaboration with the executive arm in ensuring good governance for all Nigerians. He further commended the media for their contributions to the entrenchment of democracy in the country.
Enang also noted that Buhari had given assent to over 30 bills in one year and six months of being in office, commending the 8th National Assembly for being able to pass such number of bills within a short period of time.
“This National Assembly under the leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki and Mr. Yakubu Dogara has been very rewarding in terms of legislation and the number of bills passed. This shows that as the legislature ages, more of its powers are being exercised.
“Mr. President assented to a little over 30 bills within one year and six months of the inauguration of this present National Assembly. This surpasses every record that has been made by the legislature since the advent of democracy in this republic.
This, in my opinion, is about the principles of this administration that each arm of government will concentrate on its core responsibilities and the legislature has concentrated on its core responsibilities,” he said.
However, he urged Nigerians to respond more to public hearings on bills, organised by the legislature, pointing out that it would afford them the opportunity to contribute their quota to making robust laws that would benefit all Nigerians.
On whether or not the 2017 Budget process will be devoid of irregularities of 2016 Budget, Enang assured that the process would be smoother and shorter. According to him, the 2017 Budget will not create controversies in view of improved level of consultation between the legislature and executive.
“There was front loading with the legislature by the executive, wherein the ministers consulted and related with the chairmen and members of the respective committees in building up the budget,” he said.