John Shiklam in Kaduna
Fifteen members of the House of Representatives from Kaduna State yesterday faulted the Senate rejection to approve the $350million World Bank loan request by the state government.
The Senate had last Thursday rejected the request by the state for the $350million loan, saying it would worsen the debt profile of the state.
According to the Senate, the rejection was based on the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt and the three senators from the state.
However, in an interview with journalists in Kaduna yesterday, the state caucus in the House of Representatives maintained that the rejection of the loan was purely political and not in the interest of the state.
The caucus comprises members drawn from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House.
The leader of the caucus, Datti Babawo, said all the 15 out of 16 members of the House from the state approved the loan because of the enormous benefit the state would derived from the loan.
Babawo noted that the Senaterejection of the loan was purely political which would at the long run, do the state no good.
The lawmaker added that rejection of the loan by the Senate was not only political but a reflection of the abuse of power by the three senators from the state who were supposed to put the interest of the people above their personal interests.
â€œOn a monthly basis, the Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, whenever he comes to Abuja, we always call for a meeting of the National Assembly caucus of both the House of Representatives and the Senate; to tell about this loan.
â€œInitially, the three senators do attend the meeting but the two stopped coming, leaving only Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi attending. But later, he too decided not to come.
â€œIt is strictly political. It has nothing to do with development. The interest of those who were opposed to it were strictly for their own personal and selfish reason and not for the benefit of the people of this state,â€ Babawo said.
A group known as Kaduna Concerned Citizens has also condemned the three senators for scuttling the World Bank loan to the state government.
Addressing a news conference yesterday in Kaduna, the group accused the senators for working against the interest of the people of the state.
Coordinator of the group, Mallam Abdulazeez Musa, said the three senators should have looked beyond whatever issues they have with the state government and put the interest of the Kaduna people into consideration.
According to the group, the loan would have enable to complete many projects being embarked upon.
â€œThe Kaduna Concerned Citizens hereby reject and totally condemn the position taken by the Senate to stand in the way as a clog in the wheel of the progress of the good people of Kaduna state by this unpatriotic and selfishtrejection of a legitmate request by a State government that has fulfilled all the requirements set by the World Bank to be granted this facility for infrastructural development.
â€œThe huge infractructural deficit in the education, health and road sectors necessited the governor of Kaduna state to declare a state of emergency in the education sector, as we have over 4,200 primary schools that require total renovation, provision of potable water and furniture out of which over 400 schools have so far been renovated.
â€œThe government needs a minimum of N60 billion just to fix primary schools. A lot more would be needed to actually build new schools that can have enough classrooms, staffrooms/quarters and other facilities.
â€œThis is how the state government approached the World Bank with facts and figures including pictures and after strict scrutiny of the state laws, accounts and performance, the World Bank was convinced that the state merits their supportâ€ the group said.
The group accused the senate for collaborated with the three senators from the state to deprive the over 10 million citizens of the state their legitimate right to decent investment in human capital development.
Musa maintained that the excuse given by the Senate as to the size of the loan and the viability of the state to repay the loan is baseless, unfounded and self-serving as the creditor and ratings agency clearly states that Kaduna state can manage the loan facility which has a 10years moratorium and a 40 years repayment period.
â€œIt is in the light of the above that we, the concerned citizens of Kaduna condemn the action of our lethargically inept and self-serving Senators who are against Governor eI-Rufai for some ethic, political and emotional jingosims…
The group however commended the House of Representatives especially the 16 members from Kaduna state for unanimously approving the loan request.