Reps Suspend Buhari’s $23b Loan Move As Senate Goes After Generator Dealers

Femi Gbajabiamila
Femi Gbajabiamila

By Akanimo Sampson

The Green Chamber of the National Assembly has suspended legislative approval indefinitely, President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to take an external loan of $22.79 billion.

This happens as the Red Chamber of the parliament on Wednesday proposed jail term for anybody who engages in the importation, sales and use of electricity generating sets in Nigeria.

The Senate is proposing that anyone found guilty of the offence and upon conviction will be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years.

This is the sanction provided in a fresh Bill introduced to the Senate with the aim of curbing environmental pollution.

Tagged A Bill for an Act to prohibit/ban the importation/ use of generating sets, it also seeks to facilitate the development of the power sector.

The bill which has already passed its first reading is being sponsored by Senator Bima Muhammad Enagi (APC, Niger South).

The ban on generating sets, however, excludes its use for medical services in hospitals, nursing homes, and health care facilities. Other exemptions are in airports, railway stations/services, elevators (lifts), escalators, research institutions, and such facilities that require 24 hours of electric power supply.

A section of the bill reads: “Any person who (a) Imports generating sets; or (b) Knowingly sells generating sets shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than ten years provided that this subsection shall not apply to the importation or sale of any generating set to be used for essential services.”

The bill stated that “approval for exclusion shall be obtained from the minister in charge of Power who shall brief the Federal Executive Council quarterly on approvals granted”

“All persons are hereby directed to stop the use of electricity generating sets which run on diesei/petrol/ kerosene of all capacities with immediate effect in the country”, the bill says.

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In the meantime, the House of Representatives had listed the report by its Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management on the 2016–2018 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan as the last item for consideration on the order paper for Wednesday’s proceeding.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, however, asked that the consideration be stood down without giving a new date.

“We will step that down for today”, Gbajabiamila says, asking the Chairman, Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to move for the standing down.

When asked to respond to the indefinite suspension of the loan request by the House, the Media Adviser to the Finance Minister, Yunusa Abdullahi, says, “no comments please.”

On Tuesday, the speaker had announced that the loan would be considered on Wednesday.

He had made this known in reaction to a member of the House, Mr Henry Nwawuba, who presented a petition by a group of South-East elite, against the consideration and approval of the external loan.

The Senate last week approved the loan but not without protests from the opposition senators led by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

The funding agencies for the loan, according to the Senate panel, are the World Bank ($2,854,000,000), African Development Bank ($1,888,950,000), Islamic Development Bank ($110,000,000), Japan International Cooperation Agency ($200,000,000), German Development Bank ($200,000,000), China-Exim Bank ( $17,065,496,773), and the French Development Agency ($480,000,000).

Some of the projects to be funded with the loans are the Nigeria Electricity Transmission and Access Project ($364,000,000); Social Inclusion and Welfare Advancement project, renamed National Social Safety Net Project, ($500,000) and the Economic Reforms and Governance Project, renamed Fiscal Governance Project ($200,000,000).