South-east Leaders Petition House, Say $22.7bn Loan Illegal

Henry Nwawuba

Udora Orizu in Abuja

South-east leaders under the aegis of South-east Elite, have petitioned the House of Representatives, asking the lawmakers to intervene in the proposed borrowing of $22.7 billion dollars by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Presenting the petition on behalf of the elite at the plenary yesterday, Hon. Henry Nwawuba told the lawmakers that the borrowing process and procedure being adopted is against the norms, laws and constitution of Nigeria.

Responding, the Speaker House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, told him that the request to the House to consider the loan would be listed in the order paper on Wednesday.

He said: “On the issue of the South-east Elite, I guess the $22.7 billion does not concern the South-east’ poor men, it is only for the elite. Honourable Nwawuba, this $22.7 billion you complained about does not concern your constituents? Only the elite? Until we get a petition from the common man who you represent, I’m not sure we will address that petition.”

However in a conversation with THISDAY, Nwawuba, who also doubles as the Deputy Chairman Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, insisted that the document was basically seeking to save the National Assembly from embarrassment, saying there’s a disconnect between the loan proposal and fiscal responsibility act.

“The Elite raised alarm, I presented the petition this afternoon on the floor of the parliament challenging its efficacy. There’s a way we can contravene the constitution by approving this loan and we will be taken to court as a parliament for that approval that we have given.

“There’s a disconnect between the loan proposal and fiscal responsibility act which says that for every loan we will take in this country it must be accompanied by a cost benefit analysis of the implementation of the loan.

“Secondly, the loan also needs to meet with our Debt Management Establishment Act. It also needs to meet with the Economic, Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), Approved 2020 MTEF, Federal Character Act and Preambles of Federalism and Approved 2020 Appropriation Act,” he said.

Speaking further, the lawmaker explained that the petition was also seeking to stop the House from passing the loan request and do some more work to ensure that economic activities would be triggered to repay this loan.

“If we put this into the existing debt profile of Nigeria, we will be doing a $110 billion. Nobody saw coronavirus coming, as at yesterday there was a crash in the price of crude oil and we think it’s a little bit insensitive to just go on a borrowing spree.

“We want to put on the bricks and take another look at it. I will be querying and interrogating the application particularly with respect to not just to what is coming to my region, but also the $500 million earmarked for NTA to go digital, who gave Chanels TV money or CNN,” Nwawuba added