- Says oil revenue can’t fund our needs
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Musa Adamu and Christiana Ekpa
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday forwarded to both chambers of the National Assembly a loan request for approval to enable the federal government obtain a foreign credit amounting to $29.6 billion to execute sundry capital projects as anchored on 2016 – 2018 external borrowing plan.
This is just as the President said that though Nigeria is rich in petroleum resources, earnings therefrom are insignificant when compared to the challenges facing the country.
In the letter read on the floor of the Senate by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the President said the renewal of the loan request was because of its rejection by the 8th Senate.
He pointed out that an approval of his request would ensure prompt implementation of projects under the borrowing plan with special emphasis on Infrastructure, Agriculture, Health, Education, Water Supply, Growth and Employment Generation, Poverty Reduction through Social Safety Net programmes, Governance and Financial Management Reforms among others.
The letter titled ‘Request for the National Assembly to reconsider and approve the federal government’s 2016-2018 external borrowing plan’, Buhari stated “I hereby request the resolution of the Senate to hereby approve the Federal government 2016 – 2018 external borrowing plan as well as relevant projects under this plan.”
“Specifically, the Senate is invited to note that while I had sent 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 FG emergency project for the Northeast, four states projects and one China Exim bank assisted railway modernization project for Lagos – Ibadan segment were approved out of a total of 39 projects”.
The letter further explained that “The outstanding projects that were not approved by the legislature nevertheless, are critical to the delivery of the government policies and programme relating to power, mining roads, agriculture, health, water and educational sector.
“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 we’re 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 of finance to be available to provide any necessary detailed information or clarification which you may require to facilitate on prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan.”
President Buhari had in September 2016 during the 8th National Assembly, forwarded the request for approval but was rejected by the Senate on November 1, 2016 for lacking in details and required breakdowns as regards projects the loan was being sought for.
On oil earnings, a statement made available to newsmen yesterday by the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, said he made the remarks while receiving in farewell audience the Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Carlos Trejo Sosa, who has been here for five years.
Buhari said he was pleased with relations between Cuba and Nigeria, particularly the hand of fellowship extended in the area of health care and transfer of knowledge, among others.
“We have deficit in infrastructure, in education, health care, and many other areas, but Cuba has always been helpful. What we earn from oil does not meet our needs, and we can use any assistance we get. Cuba has always been friendly and helpful,” the President said.
He said whether in uniform or out of it, he had always been glad to collaborate with Cuba, and hoped relations between the two countries will wax stronger.
Ambassador Sosa said his five years and nine days in Nigeria were filled with “warmth, love and friendship,” adding that he would never forget the country.
“I am not just being polite, I mean every word. We appreciate Nigeria a great deal,” he said.