The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, last week, defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration perchance for loans from multilateral lenders.
Lawan’s justification followed Buhari’s recent letter to the Senate, seeking approval for fresh loans to the tune of $4,054,476,863 and £710 million in addition to the 2018-2020 borrowing plan.
This and two other stories from the National Assembly topped conversations on the activities of the parliament last week.
Lawan’s stout defence of Buhari’s borrowings
Lawan on September 22 justified Nigeria’s rising debt profile under Buhari’s watch.
Lawan, who addressed Senators at the end of the debates that followed the presentation of the Senate Joint Committee on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), said the loans are required to fix the country’s infrastructure.
He said: “The Senate has passed the stage of discussing not to borrow, the issue is what are we borrowing for? We are in a hurry to develop our infrastructures, but we need to be strict with the conditions. What are the moratorium? If it isn’t favourable, we slow down. But we can’t say we shouldn’t borrow.”
Though the Senate President is entitled to his personal opinion on this matter and others that are of national interest, in hindsight, Lawan’s submission had given him away as a presidential spokesman trying to defend the actions and inactions of his principal.
In trying to dismiss the growing perception that the National Assembly under his leadership was nothing but a robotic and mechanical rubber stamp for the executive, Lawan seems blinded to the reality on the ground.
With Nigeria’s debt profile currently standing at N35.5 trillion, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the country is treading on a perilous path as there is no definite repayment plan in place on the part of the Federal Government.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“…We have three types of citizens, selfish ones, tribal ones, and patriotic citizens. The selfish ones constitute about 70 percent. Our problem is mismanagement of our resources and the near absence of patriotic citizens. We have to quickly develop a national spirit which prices glory more than wealth, and honour better than life…This is what is lacking in the country because we have more of selfish and tribesman than the patriotic citizens?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Nigerian roads or death traps?
The Deputy-Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, and 80 others on September 22 decried the poor condition of federal roads across the country.
He said: “The Onitsha-Owerri expressway offers a bypass to several communities in the South-East as well as connects the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones of the country. The present condition of the road has made it completely impassable and poses great hardship and threatens the lives of motorists, other road users, and host communities, among others.”
The lawmakers’ remark on the poor condition of major highways across Nigeria is a sad reminder of how the country has fallen behind among its peers on infrastructural development. This puts into question Federal Government’s much-advertised strides in this area.
Many federal roads in the country are nothing but death traps, not only on the account of the frequent auto accidents but the threats posed by bandits, kidnappers, and other criminals who take advantage of bad sections on the highways to waylay harmless commuters on regular basis.
Though lawmakers lack the constitutional power to repair the roads, they, as the representatives of Nigerians, must continue to call out the executive to do the needful.
They are also challenged to shiw examples by utilising the constituency allowance given to them to develop their constituencies.
Ubah’s remedy to IPOB’s recklessness
The Young Progressive Party (YPP) governorship candidate in Anambra, Ifeanyi Ubah, said on September 2 he would appeal to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) not to stop people from participating in the November 6 governorship election in the state.
Ubah, who stated this in a chat with BBC Pidgin, warned of imminent crisis in the state if IPOB forced the people to boycott the election.
He said: “We will talk to our brothers – the IPOB people, they shouldn’t say no election because if they say so, they will be imposing something we don’t want. We know they have power, but let them pipe down for us to do this election because if we don’t do this election proper, there will be trouble.”
Ubah’s position gives credence to the perception that IPOB wields more power, and greater influence than the governors of the five states in the South-East.
The group had earlier in the week ordered the people to stay at home on October 1 and a few days after the order was made public, the governors have not taken any measure to counter the directive.
The IPOB phenomenon, no doubt, has taken a life of its own. Begging the issue, as Ubah’s disposition would seem, does not offer a long term solution.
The South-East governors, the Federal Government and other stakeholders must consider a larger dialogue to devise a more effective approach at checking the IPOB excesses in the region.
While use of brute force is not recommended against the group, the governors of the South-East states should put their feet on the ground and make a definite statement that no individual or group can hold the region by the jugular.
Answer: Senator Rochas Okorocha
Senator Okorocha stated this on September 20 while delivering a keynote address at an event organised by the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ), Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Council to mark his 59th birthday.
He represents Imo West Senatorial District in the upper legislative chamber.
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