The Nigerian senate yesterday rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $29.96 billion under the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan.
The upper chamber voted massively against the request.
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki put the question twice – “that the Senate do consider the request of the President C-in-C on the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Rolling Plan”. Twice it was rejected.
Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume moved the motion for the consideration of the request. Deputy Minority Leader Emmanuel Bwacha seconded.
The lawmakers were not comfortable with “some glaring omissions in the Executive Communication” forwarded to them by President Buhari.
A source said the President failed to “attach draft of Federal Government 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan for consideration of the Senate” as indicated in the Executive Communication.
The source noted that “by asking the National Assembly leadership to approve the borrowing plan that involves huge sums of funds without formal consideration of the Senate in session smacks of some blackmail”.
The last paragraph of the communication said, “Given the emergency nature of these facilities and the need to consolidate the peace and return the region (North East) to normalcy and considering the time it will take to get the National Assembly’s approvals, it has become inevitable to request for the National Assembly leadership approval pending the consideration and approval of the 2016-2018 borrowing plan by the National Assembly to enable us disburse these funds immediately.”
Senator Ndume who spoke on the rejection of the President’s request said there was technical error in the request.
He however promised to represent the request on a later date.
Ndume said: “I was shocked as the Senate leader that they rejected the programme. I was not anticipating what happened. It was rejected on technical ground. If you look at the letter, it said ‘attached’ but there was no attachment. There are no details. I will appeal to my colleagues and represent it for consideration. There is nothing to worry about. We cannot throw away the baby with the bath water.”
The list of 46 non-career ambassadors was also rejected but Saraki used his veto power to over turn the nay vote.
Saraki also put the question twice for the Senate to consider the request of the President on the confirmation of the nomination of the following persons for appointment as non-career ambassadors-designate.