Senate approves N10bn loan refund for Kogi ahead of election

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The Senate during its plenary on Wednesday, November 12, 2019 approved the N10billion loan refund for Kogi State despite stiff resistance from the opposition senators.The sum is a refund for projects executed on behalf of the federal government by the state government.

This came after Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans, Senator Clifford Ordia, tendered the report of the panel to the Senate.

Attempts by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, to stop the process because it was not indicated in the order paper, was frustrated by the Senatee president, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, who insisted that the arrangement was in order.

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Ordia, who read the report of his committee said necessary findings conducted by his panel showed that due process was followed by the Kogi State government in executing Federal Government projects which included the repairs of  seven federal government roads in the state. He also said the Federal Government agencies in charge of the loan refund had approved the payment.

“Based on our findings, some of the highways were in the state of disrepair before the intervention was carried out.The state government has paid all the contractors that constructed the road.Our humble recommendation is that the senate do approve the refund of N10 billion for projects executed on behalf of the federal government,” Ordia said.

Senator Jibrin Barau, who spoke immediately after the presentation of the bill, asked his colleagues to approve it. But Abaribe, in his contribution, said he agreed with Barau that states that had done the job of the Federal Government should be paid but that since the Kogi Governorship elections would hold on Saturday, the approval should be delayed for one week.

He said, “What I don’t want is the misuse of these funds because it is for the people of the Kogi state. This is not the right time to approve such loan refund. Exigency of the time suggest that we should delay for one week so that the money would not be used for something else.”

Lawan disagreed with Abaribe and said there was no time that the red chamber cannot approve the payment of the money.

Lawan subjected the matter to a voice vote and ruled in favour of those who supported its approval despite protests from lawmakers who were raising points of order.

One of the protesters, Senator Uche Ekwunife, wondered why the Senate President refused to take her point of order before ruling on the issue.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on penultimate Tuesday, sent a letter to the Senate, seeking its approval for the payment of N10bn to Kogi State.

Buhari, in the letter, addressed to Senate President, said the money would be used by the state government to settle local debts it incurred as a result of the projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.

Buhari said his request was based on the resolution passed by the 8th Senate.

Yetunde Adegoke

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