The Nigerian Senate has given its Committee on Foreign and Local Debts 14 days within which to process President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for a fresh ₦2.343 trillion ($6.183 billion) for approval.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave the directive at the commencement of Tuesday’s plenary session shortly after the Senate Majority leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, drew the attention of the Senate to the pending request.
The Senator Clifford Ordia-led Committee on Foreign and Local debt had approved a total of $28 billion so far. The current request will take the total loan approved to $35.683 billion.
Buhari had urged the Senate to approve N2.3 trillion ($6.183 billion) external borrowing.
He said the loan was to finance the 2021 budget deficit of N5.6 trillion.
The President indicated that the loan would enable the Federal Government to fund critical infrastructural projects in health, education and others.
The Senate had barely a month ago approved the sum of $1.5 billion and €995 million external borrowings for the Federal Government.
The loans were part of the $5.5 billion and €995 million external borrowings Buhari had, in May 2020, asked the Red Chamber to approve to finance various priority projects of the Federal Government and to support the state governments facing fiscal challenges.
The Lawan Ninth Senate had announced in June 2020 that it had within its first year approved a total of $28 billion as loans to the Federal Government.
Lawan, in a speech to mark the first anniversary of the Ninth Senate, had said, “In order to support and enable the government to raise the necessary funds for national development, there were requests for approval to borrow, both from the domestic and foreign sources.
“We have approved foreign loans of about $28 billion in the last one year. We had ensured proper scrutiny for the desired projects and programmes of the government, the conditions of the facilities; before approving such borrowing requests.”
The Lawan Senate began its history of loan approval immediately after it was inaugurated in June 2019.
In 2016, President Buhari forwarded a loan request of over $29 billion to the Saraki-led Senate.
The request was largely rejected as the Senate approved only $6 billion.
When President Buhari forwarded the same request to the Lawan-led Senate, it was approved despite outcries by senators from the South-East who protested the exclusion of the geopolitical zone.