“What I want to assure Nigerians here is that we are not going to be frivolously supporting or approving frivolous loans for the executive arm of government.
“Whenever we have to approve any loan, we have to insist on the details of what projects will be funded by those by those loans.
“We would have to look at the conditions that are attached to the loans; they must be favourable conditions before we approve and we will be up to date with our oversight to ensure that what we have approved is directly deployed and on those projects that we have also approved for implementation.”
These were the words of the President of the Senate of Nigeria, Ahmed Lawal, when he spoke to newsmen today, June 24, at the Presidential villa in Abuja.
Senator Lawal stressed that the lawmakers would not take it lightly to just approve any loan, adding: “our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues. Nigeria is poor, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves.
“Nigeria is not rich, given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have; our resources are so low, our revenues are so low and therefore the option of not doing anything, just to sit because we have no money, we shouldn’t go for infrastructure development. It is not even an option worthy of consideration. You cannot keep the economy stagnant.
“Two, you cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructure development. Other countries do that, but we have serious situation across the country, so you cannot put taxes on people.
“The other option is public private partnership. You need to create the environment to attract investors to come into our country because of the security challenges we face today. Not many investors would like to come to Nigeria, in fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in this sector of infrastructure development.
“So, the only option left is for us to borrow, borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining; that they can pay back the loans that Nigerian economy will benefit from the implementation of such infrastructure development.
“So, that is the only option we have and I believe that Nigerians will understand. Of course, it’s not desirable, it’s not something that we like too, no Nigerian would like to have, in fact, even an individual not like to be on loan, but when you must, then you have to, and I want to be very practical here that we do so with that feeling of ‘this is our country, we must move forward, we must provide the enabling environment for our economy to grow and Nigeria to develop’.”
The Senate President hoped President Buhari would always ensure that those people manning the side of the affairs today, the those ministers, special advisors, and so on and so forth, are doing exactly the same.
“When we approve loans, that they also, at their own level of the executive level, are able to be responsible because when we detect anything going wrong, we will not show any understanding, we will be stiff; will be rigid, just like I said yesterday in plenary, there are Chief Executives of MDA’s who have refused to appear before our Public Accounts Committee.
” I have given an advice to the Public Accounts Committee in the Senate, write to remind them, if they fail, give us a list of all of them. We will publish their names and will insist that they are brought to the National Assembly under a warrant of arrest.
“But we want something smooth, we want to have a relationship that is descent, that is cordial for the benefit of people of Nigeria.”