â€¢ House: President still within timeframe to sign budget
Damilola Oyedele and James Emejo in Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has sought the urgent approval of the National Assembly for $1.49 billion foreign loan requests by 10 states.
The states are Ogun, Ondo, Kaduna, Kano, Ebonyi, Plateau, Abia, Katsina, Jigawa and Enugu.
In the letter titled: â€œRe-Federal Executive Council Approval of the 2016-2018 External Borrowing (rolling) Plan,â€ and dated May 25, 2017, Osinbajo urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to grant accelerated hearing to the loan requests, to allow the states embark on the projects for which the loans were being sought.
The Osinbajo letter was read at plenary Tuesday by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
â€œI write in reference to my earlier letter requesting for the consideration and approval of the Senate for the 2016-2018 External Borrowing plan and request the Senate to separate the statesâ€™ projects from the items listed in the borrowing plan with a view of giving them accelerated consideration,â€ Osinbajo said.
A breakdown of the loan request includes the Kaduna State Development Policy Operation $350 million World Bank loan; Ogun State Development Policy Operation $350 million World Bank loan; Ebonyi Ring Road Project â€“ $70 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP); and Abia State $100 million for rural development from the AfDB.
Others include the Katsina State Health System Project â€“ $100 million from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB); Jigawa State Integrated Rural Development Project â€“ $32.4 million from IDB; and Kano State Integrated Agricultural and Water Resources Development â€“ $200 million from IDB.
Enugu, Kano, Plateau and Ondo States are also each seeking $200 million from the French Development Agency for the third National Urban Water Sector Reform (NUWSRP-III), the letter stated.
The total loan for the states being presented for special consideration and approval is $1.49 billion, Osinbajo said in the letter.
â€œMr. Senate President, you may wish to know that the request for the separation of the state projects from the list became imperative in view of the current economic realities in the country and the pressing needs of these states to provide infrastructure and social amenities for their citizens,â€ he added.
Meanwhile, as concerns mount over the delay in the presidential assent to the 2017 budget, the House Tuesday said the acting president still had ample time to consider and make the necessary consultations before assenting to the 2017 budget.
The lower chamber said it was not bothered that the 2017 Appropriation Bill had not been signed by the executive because â€œthe president did not say he would not sign the budgetâ€.
Addressing journalists on the activities to mark the Houseâ€™s special session slated for Friday to commemorate the second year anniversary of the 8th National Assembly, Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Pally Iriase, alongside some principal officers of the House including the spokesman, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, noted that worldwide, the period of a budgetâ€™s legislation was always a controversial time.
Also, as part of the Houseâ€™s commitment to enhance the welfare of Nigerians, he said the lower chamber had committed to passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and all anti-corruption-related bills before it embarks on recess.
Iriase also said the lawmakers had commenced the modernisation of the law making process targeted at achieving an electronic parliament (e-parliament).
To this effect, he disclosed that the electronic voting system, which is one of the priority items on the Houseâ€™s legislative agenda, would be test run beginning from Wednesday.
He said the 8th National Assembly had fulfilled expectations and broken all records in performance delivery since its inauguration on June 9, 2015.
He said since inception, 1,055 bills had been introduced in the lower chamber, while 159 bills had been passed.
He added that over 500 bills were currently being processed at different stages, while 33 other bills were withdrawn or negatived, in addition to resolutions passed as a result of motions sponsored by members.
He said it was a thing of pride for the National Assembly that for the first time, its budget had been presented for public scrutiny, with some analysts expressing â€œempathy that we do so much with so littleâ€.