Senate yesterday gave approval to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, to borrow an additional N14.7 billion ($75 million) credit facilities from the World Bank.
The Upper Chamber also announced its adjournment from plenary sessions till Tuesday, September 29. Senate’s approval of the credit, however, was despite protest from Senator Matthew Uroghide from Edo State, who claimed that he got over 2000 text and email messages from concerned Edo State indigenes, who expressed their disapproval of the foreign credit. Total debt stock of Edo state as at December 2011 stood at $123,128,295.53 according to the Debt Management Office.
The approval followed the recommendation of the Senator Kabir Gaya-led seven-member Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Local and Foreign Debts in its report. “The Committee recommends that the Senate approves the Edo State Development Policy II (DPO II) in the sum of USD75 million as requested by Mr. President,” the report recommended.
The UNION reports that Buhari’s request, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, August 4 by the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, was considered on Tuesday, August 11. The Committee made several observations based on the submissions and interactions with some of the invited government officials.
“That the credit facility has an attractive and low financing data of 1.25 percent interest; moratorium of five (5) years and a 25-year maturity tenor; that the loan would be used to finance roads and rural, infrastructure and health sector developments among others,” it read in part. In his contribution, Uroghide claimed that the entire indigenes of Edo State are not in support of the loan.
“Fears have been expressed about the loan by the people of Edo State, particularly on the debt profile of Edo State. It would interest you to know that currently, Edo State is the fourth (4th) most indebted state, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO). “I want to also inform this Senate that on the 7th of this month (August) alone, I received over 2,000 text messages, as well as email messages, rejecting the loan.
The truth of the matter, Mr. President, is that the general people of Edo State are against this loan,” he said. After Uroghide’s submission, Saraki put the question to oral vote. Although it was a 50-50 response from the ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’, Saraki ruled in favour of the ‘ayes’, who supported the approval of the loan.
The UNION reports that the above sum is the second of the three tranches, which the Bank had approved to a tune of N44.1 billion ($225 million) for the State in 2012.
The UNION further reports that the loan is to be implemented in three tranches of 75 million per annum. Buhari explained in the letter that the DPO was captured in the Federal Government’s external borrowing plan of 2014/2017. He noted that the borrowing plan, which was captured on April 29, 2015, is still pending with the National Assembly.
-Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja