Senate President, David Mark,
The Senate President, Senator David Mark, Wednesday reconstituted a 22-man committee to carry out a comprehensive surgical analysis on why the $9.3 billion external borrowing being considered by the Federal Government on the pipeline projects into the medium term external borrowing plan for 2012-2014 is imperative for the country.
The Senate committees on Finance and Local and Foreign Debts were therefore merged into one committee with the mandate to report back to the upper legislative chamber in one week after its full investigation on the purported external loan.
Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, while presenting the motion on the floor of the Senate, stated that the projects are special initiatives designed by the Federal Government to put the economy back on track through growth and employment activities geared towards transforming the fortunes of Nigerians by the implementation of the Federal Government’s transformation agenda.
According to him, “The pipeline projects are at various stages of completion and a total external pipeline borrowings will be sourced from World Bank, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, French Development Agency and Exim Bank.
He said the loans which cut across various strata of the economy would be used to fund critical projects.
Senator George Sekibo, representing Rivers East Senatorial District, while throwing his weight behind the loan, said the motion for the external loans can be justified on several grounds, adding that the country’s infrastructure is in a bad shape which are the basic needs for the development of the country and cannot be financed using the annual budget alone.
He said if approved finally, the loans would help in fast tracking the economic development of the country.
He said: “We are aware that several pipelines have been vandalised in recent times in the oil producing areas.”
Senator Solomon Ganiyu, however said that he would support the bill believing that it will pass through second reading.
He said: “In doing justice to this bill the committee must critically look at the various items under the proposal, by late 70s we started borrowing which culminated in the country emerged huge foreign and local debts which made the country to part with $30 billion recently to get out of the mess; if we are guaranteeing these loans that is being sourced, the Debt Management Office (DMO)should be up and doing to be able to keep track of these loans which are used for the areas that they are meant for so we do not burden the in coming generations.”
Senator Ahmed Lawal while making his contribution, called for caution in the external loan financing for the country’s development.
He said: “My sincere advice is that before we approve these loans, effort should be made to know how the previous funds were applied.” He added that the enlarged committee should be mandated to find out how the previous loans were utilised.
However Lawal said he was terribly worried because the loans can be obtained and what is on paper will not be adhered to.
He said: “I have from a very reliable source, that each geo-political zones across the country should have a cargo airport, the one for North-east has been taken by the Minister of Aviation to the South-south in Delta State in particular.”
He said whoever feels that what he is saying is wrong should go and check the records.
He said: “We are going to protest this because it is our right, because the loan is for the entire country as Yobe State will share in payment of such debts.”
Lawal added that the projects in the plan must be adhered to.
Also calling for caution, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said the inclusion of the committee on Finance would help to resolve issues in the borrowing, adding that some of the items in the plan also form part of 2012 budget financing items.
“Some of these projects are very critical because some of it has to do with flood control,” he said.
He added that it was important for people to know the essence of the borrowing because even the United States of America still borrow to finance some of its critical projects.