Niger Urges Assembly to Stop Deliberations on N21.5bn Sukuk Bond

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By Laleye Dipo in Minna

The Niger State Government on Wednesday reacted to the rejection by the House of Assembly of its request to obtain a N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.

The government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Danjuma Salau, said it had asked the lawmakers to stop deliberations on the request since July 5.

The assembly rejected the request at plenary on Tuesday.

According to the statement, government said it asked the assembly to stay action on the request because of insinuations in some quarters that the money was meant for the 2019 electioneering.

“Even though the desire to take the loan was in the public interest, the request by Mr Governor to the House to step down further discussion on the matter was to disabuse the minds of the people that the bond was not meant for re-election bid in 2019,” Salad said.

In the letter, the commissioner said the governor expressed “profound gratitude and appreciation to Mr Speaker and Honourable members for the seriousness with which the House attends to legislative business and other equally important affairs of the state and huge time it devotes to doing so”.

In spite of their enormous complex nature, Salau said the governor’s letter was “duly received in the Honourable Speaker’s Office at exactly 3.20pm on Thursday 5th July 2018”.

When contacted on the issue, the Speaker of the Assembly, Alhaji Ahmed Marafa Guni, said the assembly actually received the letter from the governor asking the House to suspend deliberations on the request for approval for the government to take the N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.

Guni however said that the governor’s letter could not be debated because the presentation of the report of the special committee on Sukuk bond had already been put on the order paper.

“The report of the committee on Sukuk bond was ready for presentation, we could not now contradict ourselves.

“The submission of the report does not put an end to the whole issue of Sukuk. If the state still needs the facility they can still re-present it after studying all our observations,” he said.

Guni said the impression should not be created that “the legislature is at loggerheads with the executive”.

On Tuesday, the Assembly at plenary after receiving the report of the special committee on Sukuk bond headed by Alhaji Abdulmalik Kabir rejected the governor’s request, saying that there were hidden costs in the loan that would tie down the state for several years.