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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: Minister Of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi Attacked By ‘Misguided’ Nigerians In Spain

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Some persons described as “misguided Nigerians” on Friday attacked the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in Spain.

Amaechi said he was attacked at an event on climate change held in Madrid, Spain.

The minister disclosed this on his Twitter handle, @ChibuikeAmaechi.

He said Spanish police officers succeeded in stopping his attackers before they could hurt him.

He did not disclose the identities of his attackers.

The minister had tweeted:

Recall that the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in August, confirmed a physical assault on him by some members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra in Nuremberg, Germany,

Ekweremadu confirmed the attack in a statement released by his Media Assistant, Uche Anichukwu, in Abuja.

The senator, who also gave an account of the event on his social media handle @iamekweremadu, also said that he was safe.

He condemned the attack and said he had immediately reported it to the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar.

Ekweremadu had said, “I attended the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organized by Ndi-Igbo Germany in Nurnberg today where I was billed to give a keynote address along with the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who, however, could not make it eventually.

“I was given a resounding welcome by Ndigbo in Germany and everything went smoothly until some men, who identified themselves as IPOB members stormed the venue and began to complain about the killings in the South East, stressing that there would be no Igbo event at the venue.

“I tried to engage them, but when they became unruly, I had to leave the venue. The organizers also invited the police and I was accompanied out of the venue.

“Much as I am disappointed in their conduct, especially as I am one of the persons who have spoken up on justice for Ndigbo, the Python Dance, judicial killings in Igbo land and elsewhere both on the floor of the Senate and in my written and personal engagements with the Presidency and the media as well as rallied the southeast Senate Caucus to secure Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe taking him on bail to douse tension in the South East, I nevertheless do not hold this to heart against them, for they know not what they do.”

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Sowore Vs DSS: Suspend The Nigerian Constitution, Declare Full Military Regime —- Deji Adeyanju Advises Buhari

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Convener of Concerned Nigerian, Deji Adeyanju, on Friday charged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the country’s constitution, disband National Assembly.

Speaking with newsmen, Adeyanju also charged Buhari to abrogate the judiciary and transform into a Military Head of State because he is a “tyrant.”

He was reacting after operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, invaded the courtroom of an Abuja Federal High Court, chased away lawyers before re-arresting Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement.

Adeyanju said: “This is tyranny taken too far. We are now in a full military regime. Buhari should suspend the constitution, disband the national assembly, abrogate the judiciary and come out fully as military head of state.

“You saw the way they stormed the court like gangsters, chased away lawyers and took him away.

“Buhari is a tyrant. He has no human Sympathy.”

This is coming less than a day after he was released by the DSS after an Abuja Federal High Court ordered for his release within 24 hours.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu also ordered the DSS to pay the sum of N100,000 to Sowore, for refusing to release him on bail despite two court orders to that effect.

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BIG STORY

Hadiza Lied! We Never Sponsored Thugs To Harass NPA MD – Ocean Marine Solutions

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The management of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL) has debunked any knowledge or involvement in the physical attack of the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, at the National Assembly.

NPA boss Ms. Hadiza Usman petitioned the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan alleging that she was physically attacked by hoodlums at the premises of the National Assembly in Abuja on Tuesday.

She claimed that her attack was sponsored by Chairman of Messrs Ocean Maritime Solutions Limited (OMSL), Captain Wells Okunbo apparently over the decision of the NPA on the Secure Anchorage issue after attending an investigative hearing in the Assembly.

She said that she was only saved a bigger assault by her security agents who took her into Senator Danjuma Goje’s office where she waited for the hoodlums to leave.

Reacting to the allegation, Commodore Chuma Adogu (rtd), said the allegation was a falsehood and a figment of imagination, saying the Chairman of OMSL, Captain Wells Okunbo, a fine gentleman who has served the nation diligently in various capacities, could not have sponsored thugs to attack the NPA boss.

Commodore Adogu (retired) noted that on that Tuesday there was no any sign of such alleged attach or rented crowd in the premises of the National Assembly that could warrant such allegation, maintaining that OMSL Management came to the National Assembly just like other invited organizations on the day of the investigation by the Joint Committee of the Senate investigating the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA).

‘’On the day of the investigation at the National Assembly, we came like other invited organizations and we never came with any thugs or rented crowd to harass anybody talkless the Managing Director of NPA. The security at the premises of the National Assembly was very tight as everybody was routinely checked and controlled while entering thus forestalling any rented crowd or thugs to gain entrance. We came before the panel and presented our position in the SAA without nursing hatred against anyone.

‘’Let me make it clear to the Nigerian public that OMSL is a responsible corporate organization with a lot of Nigerians working as its employees. We are mindful of this and never can we trade it away. I repeat we do not have hands nor did our Chairman sponsor any group of thugs to attack Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman. We see this as part of the attempts to discredit OMS and distract attention from the main issue which is already with the Senate’’ he submitted.

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