Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday took on the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, over a statement credited to him that the National Assembly’s refusal to approve federal government’s request for a foreign loan is frustrating the construction of Lagos-Ibadan and Ibadan-Ilorin-Minna -Kano rail lines.
In a statement, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, accused Amaechi of making a false comment and misrepresenting facts, pointing out that the comment only showed that the minister was in the dark over government affairs.
According to Abdullahi, there is currently no executive communication before the National Assembly requesting for foreign loan except a recent letter for $1 billion Euro bond request sent by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo a week ago.
Osinbajo had last week asked the National Assembly to reconvene its plenary sessions and approved a $1 billion Euro bond request. But the National Assembly drew his attention to an earlier approval of $3 billion Euro bond proposal in 2016 budget, explaining that since a higher proposal had been approved last year, the government should just proceed to secure the bond.
Abdullahi therefore said besides this request, which he said had been approved, there is no other request before the federal parliament.
“As at today, the only request for approval from the executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017 and signed by Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, seeking a ‘resolution of the National Assembly for the issuance of $1 billion EuroBond In the International Capital Market For the funding of the 2016 budget deficit’ and we immediately granted the approval.
“Also, in the letter quoted above, the government mentioned the two rail lines cited by the minister as part of the projects for which the EuroBond will be utilised. So, we cannot understand what the grouse of Amaechi is.
“We view that statement based on false and misinformed premise strongly as a mere attempt to incite the people against the National Assembly. The minister should therefore withdraw that statement. Furthermore, the National Assembly will take up the matter with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
“As a former Speaker of a state House of Assembly, we believe that a minister like Amaechi should always check his facts and refrain from making unguarded and inciting remarks against the legislature.
“What Nigeria needs at this point is for all arms of government to work together and create the synergy necessary to take Nigeria out of the present economic crisis we have found ourselves. Comments designed to infuriate one arm of government or incite the people against another arm of the government will do no one any good and we do not expect such statements from a minister in the present government,” the statement said.