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Published On: Fri, Sep 26th, 2014

Senate approves Jonathan’s $1bn loan request

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Nigerian-Senate-1By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The Senate has approved $1 billion dollar loan requested by President Goodluck Jonathan to tackle insecurity and terrorism in the country.

The approval, however, did not come easily as some lawmakers argued that President Jonathan breached the constitutionally laid down process of requesting for extra budgetary funds.

President Jonathan had written a letter asking the Senate in July to approve a $1 billion (about N165) loan for the fight against Boko Haram.

The President said he needed the cash to upgrade military equipment and for training as well as logistics for the Armed Forces.

This is in addition to N968.127 billion voted for defence in the 2014 budget by the Federal Government.

This followed protests by All Progressives Congress (APC) senators, who opposed moves by their colleagues from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to approve the $1 billion loan request from President Goodluck Jonathan.

Recall that President Jonathan had on July 15 requested for the approval of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1 billion to aggressively tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.

Opposing this request, the APC senators, who cited Section 81(4) (a&b) and Section 83 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 41(1,2,3,4), 42 and 43 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRC) to back up their arguments, accused the lawmakers from the ruling party of condoning illegality.

They emphasised that the PDP senators are unduly becoming partisan by approving a loan request from President Jonathan without complying with the due processes as stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRC).

They maintained that any expenditure that comes after the Budget has been passed, the 1999 Constitution requires that such expenditure must be tabled before both Chambers of the National Assembly for consideration.

They also argued that the loan which President Jonathan seeks to borrow does not comply with the 2014/2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), adding that they are not challenging the powers of the President to seek loan but that the due process must be followed.

But the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance said President Jonathan is in full compliance of the law on this matter.

Responding, the PDP senators argued that the Presidential loan request does not go contrary to the 1999 constitution or the Fiscal Responsibility Act as argued by their APC colleagues.

They also pointed out that the loan does not involve cash flow from any country or organisation, but a loaned military hardware which would be appropriated for over seven year period by the parliament without attracting any interest.

However, all the efforts made by the progressive party lawmakers to stall the approval of the loan request failed, as the colleagues from the democratic party overwhelmed them when the question was put by the Senate President, David Mark.

To this end, the APC lawmakers stood up in the chamber protesting the ruling by the Senate President, which nearly resulted in disorder and conflicts in the chamber, until the Senate President struggled to calm the flared tempers.

However, after long argument, the Senate finally approved the $1 billion request from the President, saying it will help the government to more forcefully against the insurgents in the north east.


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