Senate panel rejects Buhari’s $700 loan request, summons water minister
The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on Wednesday rejected the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.),’s loan request to the National Assembly for the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene project under the Ministry of Water Resources.
The development came 24 hours after the Ministry of Health appeared before the committee to seek approval for $200m for the procurement of mosquito nets and malaria medicines.
Members of the panel took turn to fault the loan for the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene project.
They asked the officials of the Ministry of Water Resources led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack, to furnish the committee with update of loans collected so far for water projects in the ministry.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, said three different loans had been approved for various water projects.
Ordia said, “$450m to the ministry for water project being financed by the Africa Development Bank and another $6m loan under the Integrated Programme for Development also financed by the Africa Development Bank; and the Gurara Water Project. You need to tell us what you are doing with $700m for water projects.”
The committee therefore agreed to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman, to give explanation on the loans and the state of loans collected so far.
Senator Obinna Ogba said he would work against granting approval for the loan because some loans had been collected for water projects which have not been completed.
He said, “For this particular loan, I won’t give my support. Enough is enough.”
Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe demanded the criteria for selecting the benefiting states.
He added that details provided by the Permanent Secretary were not enough to justify the loan.
The senator said, “What are the criteria for selecting the benefiting states? The details you are providing is not enough; what are the projects you want to do with $640m and how many water are you going to do?
“You are giving each state $3m to develop personnel capacity. Do we need loan to do this function? Do you mean all states can’t do that on their own?”
Senator Sani Musa, while also rejecting the loan request, advised the committee to look at all the request and pick the one that was necessary.
The Niger senator said, “We should look at these loans and take the ones that are necessary and abandon the ones that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.
Senator Birma Enagi also protested against the request for $700m loan and demanded to know the state of the Gurara project from the ministry.
The senators appeared not to be convinced with the Permanent Secretary’s explanation to the previous loans approved for water projects.
She told the sommittee that the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene would last for five years.
She said, “$640m will be used for the Project while the $60m was for capacity building.The proposal was negotiated with World Bank in April, 2022 and was approved at the Federal Executive Council on August 11, 2021.
“States that would benefit from the $700 loan from World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175m. The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 communities to achieve an end to open defecation free status.”