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Uproar As Buhari Makes Fresh Request For $29.96bn Loan

Peter Okunoren

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday re-sent the $29.96bn 2016-2018 external borrowing plan to the Senate for its consideration and approval.

Buhari made the request a day after the International Monetary Fund warned Nigeria against rising debts.

The Debt Management Office has said out of Nigeria’s total debt profile of N25.7tn as of June 2019, external borrowing accounts for about 32 per cent while the 68 per cent is domestic.

The Federal Executive Council approved the President’s financial plan in August 2016 and sent to the 8th Assembly in September 2016.

The leadership of the federal parliament led by Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara invariably rejected the request in November 2016.

Buhari had asked the 8th Assembly to approve plans to borrow the amount abroad to fund infrastructure plans from 2016 to 2018.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who read the fresh request sent by Buhari during plenary, did not give details of the executive communication.

In the letter, dated November 26, 2019, Buhari said the 8th National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.

This, according to him, stalled the Federal Government’s implementation of critical projects spanning across the mining, power, health, agricultural, water and educational sectors.

The letter reads, “Pursuant to Section 21 and 27 of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act, and I hereby request for Resolutions of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan, as well as relevant projects under this plan.

“Specifically, the Senate is invited to note that: While I had transmitted the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan to the 8th National Assembly in September 2016, this plan was not approved in its entirety by the Legislature.

“Only the Federal Government’s Emergency projects for the North East, (Four (4) States’ projects and one (1) China Exam Bank Assisted Railway Modernisation Projects for Lagos – Ibadan Segment) were approved, out of a total of thirty-nine (39) projects.

“The Outstanding projects in the plan that were not approved by the Legislature are, nevertheless, critical to the delivery of the Government’s policies and programmes relating to power, mining, roads, agriculture, health, water and educational sectors.

“These outstanding projects are well advanced in terms of their preparation, consistent with the 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis undertaken by the Debt Management Office and were approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2016 under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan.

“Accordingly, I have attached, for your kind consideration, relevant information from the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning the specific outstanding projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan for which legislative approval is currently sought.

“I have also directed the Minister to make herself available to provide any additional information or clarification which you may require to facilitate prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan.”

According to the President’s letter, the total cost of implementing the projects is $29.960bn consisting of a Projects and Programme loan of $11.274bn.

Others are Special National Infrastructure Projects of $10.686bn, Euro Bonds of $4.5bn and Federal Government Budget Support of $3.5bn.

The letter also revealed that the projects and programmes were selected after positive technical-economic evaluation and presumed contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.

The projects he said, would be implemented across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

The President explained that it was necessary to resort to external borrowing to fund the financial gap required to address the huge infrastructural deficit in the country such as power, railway, road projects and assured lawmakers of its resolve to implement the projects in a financially sustainable manner.

The President also admitted that the World Bank had provided the sum of $575m for the purpose of reconstructing and rehabilitating the North East.

He said the amount, which was outside the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan had been earmarked for urgent implementation in the region.

Some of the areas of intervention according to him are, Polio Eradication support and routine immunization project- ($125m); Community and Social Development Project ($75m).

Others are the Nigeria States Health Programme Investment Project ($125m); State Education Programme Investment Project ($100m); Nigeria Youth Employment and Social Support Project ($100m) and the Fadama III Project ($50m).

The President, therefore, urged the Senate to immediately approve the $575m grant by the World Bank to enable its immediate disbursement before further consideration and authorization of the 2016-2018 borrowing plan.

The Senate Spokesperson, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, told journalists on Thursday that the 9th Senate would consider the fresh request from the President, purely on merit.

He said the 8th Senate rejected the proposal because it lacked details then.

He urged Nigerians to be patient with the parliament as details of the expenditure contained in the request would soon be made public.

Akwashiki said, “The 8th Senate rejected the request because there were no details of what the President wants to use the money for.

“Details would be provided along with this request and we will consider it on its merit.”

In spite of the Senate’s assurance, groups, including the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Employers’ Consultative Association expressed concern about the FG’s borrowing plan.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Boko Haram Terrorists Execute Abducted Adamawa CAN Chairman

Peter Okunoren

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The Chairman of the Adamawa State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Lawan Andimi, has been executed by Boko Haram.

The news of the execution was broken by a seasoned journalist with close contact with Boko Haram, Ahmad Salkida, on Tuesday.

Salkida tweeted on his Twitter page: “To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by #BokoHaram was executed yesterday. Rev. Andimi was a church leader, a father to his children and the community he served. My condolences go to his family.”

Rev. Andimi was taken hostage by the Boko Haram terrorists on January 3, 2020, during an attack on a major town in Adamawa State, Michika.

He was thereafter on January 6, 2020, shown in a video by the Islamic terrorist group pleading for his release.

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Documentary On Oshiomhole’s ‘Dark Side’ Out January 30 —- Edo Ex-Speaker

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The immediate past speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Alhaji Kabiru Adjoto, says he is set to release a three-hour documentary, “exposing Mr. Adams Oshiomhole’s dark waters.”

But the Oshiomhole camp says the former Edo governor has done no wrong.

Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Monday, Adjoto said the documentary would be shown to the public on Jan. 30 in Abuja.

Adjoto, who described Oshiomhole as his long-time political confidant, said the documentary would expose Oshiomhole’s “dirty malfeasance in his days as governor of Edo State.

He said that the documentary was part of his planned nationwide campaign against Oshiomhole, who is currently the national chairman of the ruling APC.

Adjoto disclosed that the three-hour documentary highlighted some shady deals allegedly carried out by Oshiomhole in Edo’s Central Hospital contract and the N30 billion Benin Storm Water project.

The former speaker named other questionable projects executed during the Oshiomhole era as the airport road contract and some other transactions, handled by Oshiomhole at the tail end of his administration.

“The problem I have with Oshiomhole is not personal but a disagreement over the reversal of initially professed democratic principles.

“Every atom of principle he preached and benefited from is a sharp contrast to what he is championing today.”

Adjoto claimed that he had the backing of critical APC stakeholders, including seven governors, whom he said, had thrown their weight behind the ‘Oshiomhole must-go-campaign, which he said, would hit the streets soon.

Commenting on the forthcoming Edo APC governorship primaries, the APC chieftain reiterated that any team sent by Oshiomhole to conduct the primaries would be vehemently rejected.

He said that the rejection of Oshiomhole was because the APC national chairman had been suspended from the party and that he lacked constitutional powers to preside over any affair of the party.

“Oshiomhole should be ready for a Zamfara showdown in Edo State if he makes an attempt to spearhead the primary process because he is behind the crisis bedeviling the party in Edo State.’’

He said that Oshiomhole’s suspension from the party had been ratified in his ward, local government and the state’s executive committee of the party.

The former lawmaker noted that the incumbent, governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, must enjoy the right of first refusal during the primaries, otherwise the process would be enmeshed in catastrophe.

He disclosed further that he would be meeting with notable traditional rulers in Oshiomhole’s senatorial zone, including the Otaru of Auchi, to inform them of the looming consequences that would face the “suspended national chairman of the party if he failed to retrace his steps.

“Without mincing words, the next few weeks will be very interesting.

“After the release of the Oshiomhole documentary, Nigerians would judge if he’s qualified to lead a party, whose principal trademark is fighting corruption,” Adjoto added.

He advised the four APC governorship aspirants against falling into what he called “Oshiomhole’s crafty political web’’.

Adjoto said he would meet with the aspirants to make them see the reason to queue behind Obaseki for the common good of Edo people.

But reacting to allegations of fraud against Oshiomhole, a member of the Oshiomhole camp, Mr Henry Idahagbon, said that Obaseki and the current Secretary to the Edo Government, Mr Osarodion Ogie, should also be included in any fraud charge against Oshiomhole.

Idahagbon, who was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice during Oshiomhole’s administration said that every project executed during Oshiomhole’s era was approved by Obaseki as the chairman of the administration’s economic team.

He said that the contracts cited by Adjoto were over 90 percent completed by Oshiomhole before he left office, dismissing accusations against the APC national chairman as unfounded.

Edo State is set for governorship elections in August this year.

(NAN)

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Supreme Court Affirms Tambuwal’s Victory

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The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as the validly elected governor of the state.

In a unanimous judgment, a seven-member panel of the court dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Aliyu, for lacking in merit.

In the lead judgment, Justice Uwani Abba Aji held that the appellant grossly failed to prove that Tambuwal’s election was fraught with irregularities.

The court held that the appellant simply dumped documents on the court

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