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Published On: Wed, Feb 14th, 2018

Senate, minister disagree on $350m zero interest loan

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Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

By Christiana Ekpa

The Senate Joint Committees on Public Account and Power yesterday queried the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun for authorizing zero loan interest from the stabilization account.
This is just as Adeosun said she has the authority to administer the funds kept by Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA.
The senators who took turns in asking questions, queried the Minister on why she gave loan at zero interest from the stabilization accounts to NSIA for a tenured of one year to private company.
Senate had mandated its Committee on Public Accounts to ascertain the $650 million balance of Eurobond with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The Upper Legislative Chamber also mandated the committee to invite the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to render a detailed account of public funds spent on the Afam Fast Power Project.
It also urged the committee to investigate and consider summoning the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company (NBET) to establish the status of the funds.
The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi State) on “Monumental Fraud in the Power Sector”.
The Senate Public Account Committee (SPAC) had threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the Minister of finance if she fails again to honour the Committee’s invitation to appear before it to explain her role in the billion dollars Euro bond, which prompt the minster to appeared before the joint committee yesterday
The Chairman of the Committee on Public Account, Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo Sourth) who asked for the background and the purpose of the bond equally queried why the details of recovery did not show as the money was not be paid once.
He said “the $350million was suppose to be paid to NBET but the money was used to be paid for Afam fast power, why is it so?
Also the Committee Chairman on power, Eyinnaya Abaribe questioned the minister on what gave her the right to authorized the zero lone interest
Others senators who also raised objections Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central), Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East) and minority leader of the senate, God’swill Akpabio (PDP Akwa Ibom) .
But the Finance Minster in her response said the $350 million did not come from Eurobond.
On the issue of the authorization of the zero loan interest, the minister disclosed that she has the authority to administer the funds kept by NSIA.
“The ex minister decided to invest the funds to get interest. The money came from Abacha loot in Swiss Bank and the condition was that the project to be invested it will be approved by the world back and they approached them and asked for the fast power by GE, and they decided to use the stabilization fund to pay with the abacha loot, buy, they said it will be social projects and not the power projects.
“That was why they gave it to them in zero interest and if not they will not be able to get a huge project to invest the money to avoid piecemeal payment.

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