New Telegraph

Buhari’s loan approval: Ethnic nationalities carpet NASS

Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities for the umpteenth time have taken a swipe at the National Assembly, adding the lawmakers have disappointed Nigerians by granting President Muhammadu Buhari’s fresh request for a foreign loan of $16 billion and €1billion as well as $125 million.

 

The lawmakers approved the money on Wednesday after they considered the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, presented by the chairman, Clifford Ordia. The Yoruba socio- cultural organization Afenifere, its Igbo counterpart, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in separate interviews with Sunday Telegraph, while reacting to the approval, described the Upper Chamber as a rubber stamp of the executive.

 

Afenifere, through its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said that the Senate once again disappointed Nigerians. He said:“When the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the upper chamber under his watch will ‘co-operate’ with the Executive Arm’ of government, it was thought to mean a cooperation that would be in the best interest of Nigerians.

Unfortunately, the way the National Assembly under Lawan has been going about its duties has been painted as conspiring with the Executive arm against Nigerians. “In what way could the Legislature justify its approval of the latest tranches of loan requests when satisfactory explanations have not been made on how the previous loans have been or are being utilized?

 

The quanta of loans that have become a big burden on Nigerians now have not reflected in a better life for Nigerians. Nor have they reflected in better infrastructure for the country.”

 

Also, he described as ironic, the fact that President Buhari kept seeking for more loans when he was also pleading with the international community, especially creditors, to write off Nigeria’s debt. It would be recalled that the President canvassed for Nigeria’s debt to be forgiven in his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September this year in New York, United States of America.

 

“One would have expected the National Assembly, as the watchdog and representatives of the people, to check the executive from doing anything that would endanger the interest of the country and its people. Accumulating loans, especially in the face of collapsing economy, industries’ closures and decaying infrastructure, is one of the greatest dis-services that a government could be doing to its people.

 

A good Legislature should not be lending its support to that kind of step that mortgages the interests of the people now and in the future.” Speaking in the same vein, spokesman, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, told Sunday Telegraph that the principle of separation of powers in Nigeria is dead.

 

He said:“When President Buhari was struggling to install the leadership of the National Assembly, I had my fears that the National Assembly will become complacent and pliable. You can even manipulate it; and the concept of separation of powers will disappear by the time the leadership of the legislature becomes the product of the executive.

 

“That separation of power theorized by Montesquieu and the rest has been thrown overboard in Nigeria because when you talk about separation of power, it’s in other democracies and not  in Nigeria in respect of what is happening at the National Assembly because if we had separation of power, the legislature will be in a position to question the executive with respect to accumulation of debts for the unborn generation. “By the time you continue to accumulate debts, who do you think will pay? How do you think they will pay?

When you are still having oil and you are accumulating debt, when the oil is no more, what happens to the future generation? It’s another way. It’s just like someone mortgaging the future of the children; when you sell all your property, you go to borrow in order to live, believing that your children will pay. You are mortgaging their own future.

 

“That’s simply what President Buhari is doing and the National Assembly is not helping matters. As far as I’m concerned, they have not shown signs of what was designed in democracy as separation of powers, independence of the legislature. So, what we have now is a fusion between the executive and the legislature, which is very awful; a bad signal for any democracy.

 

That is a sign of totalitarianism. In totalitarianism, whatever the president says the legislature will just give in to.” Also weighing in, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) through its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said that the National Assembly was a rubber stamp. Robinson said: “It is more unfortunate that the National Assembly has continuously approved these requests for loans for the president without any proper planning and we don’t see what the loans are being used for.

 

They are loans that are not even for the development of infrastructure that we will say this was what the loans have been used for. “So, it is very sad. They are loans that we could not even say that they borrowed and mismanaged them. So, we are just putting future Nigerian leaders in a tight corner.

 

“There are no indications that these loans have been judiciously applied to projects for which they claimed or for purposes which they have been taken. The point that we need to emphasize here is that the National Assembly has become a rubber stamp and every application that the president has, receives automatic approval.

 

That is the fact that there are no checks and balances. “The whole system has collapsed and everybody seems to be dancing to the tune of the president and they do whatever they like and it is putting the future of Nigeria in jeopardy.”

 

This is the position taken by the President, Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu. He regretted that instead of the upper chamber to stop the executive from wasting what he termed the country’s Commonwealth and mortgaging the nation and the future of the younger generation, they were rather encouraging it to cripple the economy and making life more difficult for the average citizenry.

 

“It is regrettable that our Senators are doing this despite the outcry of Nigerians and it is a clear indication that they are a rubber stamp of anything Buhari sends to them. If they say they are not, they are colluding in destroying Nigeria. “Buhari is taking such a loan for what?

 

They are borrowing and telling Nigerians they want to do this and that. Nigeria’s economy cannot survive on loans and what are they doing using the loans for? “The Federal Government is only mortgaging the country to make Nigerians believe that the government is working, working with loans?

 

On borrowed money? Is that going to help the economy? The economy is already down.” “It is our desire that the Senate, which is a representative of the people, should stop the executive from wasting our Commonwealth and mortgaging this country and the future of our children.”

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