$30bn loan: Senate may avoid public hearing



The Senate may not hold a public hearing before it approves the $29bn loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari, a report by the PUNCH quoted sources in the Senate committee on local and foreign loans as saying.

On Thursday, November 28, President Buhari had written to the Senate, seeking approval for the said loan request.

In the request letter, Buhari informed the upper legislative chamber that the borrowed fund would be used to fund 39 emergency projects in the power, agriculture, road and mining sectors of the nation’s economy.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan had also thrown his weight on the request, vowing to see to its approval, even as many Nigerian had rejected the idea.

But, according to the report, the source said: “Holding a public hearing on the issue would be counterproductive because the stakeholders would come and kick against the loan.

“We want to avoid a situation whereby the press would go to town with reports that Nigerians have rejected the loan request and the National Assembly would pass it the following day.

“As for me and a few of my colleagues that I have spoken with, we are not really sure of our active participation in the committee’s activities over the loan because it would end up as a mere academic exercise.”

Recall that on Friday, November 29, Shehu Sani, the Senator who represented Kaduna Central at the 8th Senate, had warned against approving the loan request, saying that the country’s external debt stands at $22.08 billion as of June this year — from $10.32 billion in 2015.

According to him, borrowing further would jeopardise Nigeria’s future.

“With the current escalation of borrowing, we will be walking into debt slavery and move from landlords to tenants in our country,” he said.

“They will always tell you that even America is borrowing and I don’t know how rational is it to keep on borrowing because Another country is borrowing.

“If we keep listening to Bankers and contractors we will keep borrowing and burying ourselves and leave behind for our children a legacy of debt burden.

“Loans are not charities. Most of those encouraging more borrowing are parasitic consultants, commission agents, rents seeking fronts and contractors. We must be cautious,” he said.