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PRESIDENT BUHARI SEEKS APPROVAL TO BORROW $29.96BN LOAN, AS SENATE MOVES TO ADDRESS HOUSING DEFICIT

PRESIDENT BUHARI SEEKS APPROVAL TO BORROW $29.96BN LOAN, AS SENATE MOVES TO ADDRESS HOUSING DEFICIT

In order to ensure the implementation of key policies of the present administration as captured in the 2016 – 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) which was denied approval by the 8th National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari has once again forwarded an Executive Communication to the Senate seeking the Chamber’s approval to borrow $29.96 billion as part of the External Borrowing Plan of the Government to execute Key Infrastructure Projects in various sectors of the economy. The request was read on the floor of the Red Chamber by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan during Thursday, November 28, 2019 plenary session.

According to President Buhari, the request for 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan was partially approved by the previous Assembly, stating that only two out of the 39 Capital Projects were approved which prompted the President to request for Senate’s reconsideration of the External Borrowing Plan. Similarly, the President has sent to the Upper Legislative Chamber another request to reconsider and possibly pass into law the Companies and Allied Matters Amendment Bill, 2019. The Bill was among legislation passed into law by the previous National Assembly but was declined assent by the President, hence the need for the Bill to undergo fresh legislative processes. Meanwhile, the Senate has considered and passed very important Motions that have direct impact on the lives of Nigerians. They include: Urgent need to reform the Housing Policy and Mortgage Financing in Nigeria to meet the escalating housing demand in the country, sponsored by Sen. Albert Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East) and 11others.

According to Sen. Akpan, shelter is one of the basic needs of man and ranks next to air, food, water, sleep and constitute the largest expenditure item of the average household. He observed that in Nigeria, the low/middle class income earners constitute the largest active population making affordable houses a herculean task in their life. The Senate is worried that there exists little or no impact of the National Social Housing Development Programme in the country over the years. Owing to escalating population growth, there is a dire and urgent need for total review of the National Housing Policy Framework to meet the needs of Nigerians especially the poorest citizens in line with the various International Conventions/ Treaties of which Nigeria is a signatory.

The Motion scaled through with a single resolution below: Mandate the Senate Committee on Housing to urgently work out modalities with the various stakeholders in the National Housing Development sector to ensure the implementation of affordable Housing across the country to cater for the ever increasing population and the poorest Nigerians. The need to install computerized Oil Facilities Management Gadgets for Nigerian Crude Oil Businesses, sponsored by Sen. George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) and 29 others. The Motion sailed through with three prayers below: Mandate the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream, Gas Resources to hold a Public Hearing with Stakeholders to ascertain: The quantity of Oil and Gas produced daily; The quantity control mechanism as currently engaged by the NNPC and if adequate; The amount of waste of petroleum products through pilfering, pipeline vandalism, leakages and from any other forms; International Best Practice of computerized Oil and Gas Business Management, including Pipeline Protection, Quantity and Quality Control; Any other advice that could improve the Oil and Gas Business in the country.

Urge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to set up a consortium of such experts to evaluate the possibilities of installing computerized Oil Facilities Management Gadgets to curb the excesses of multifaceted problems associated with the Oil and Gas production, transportation and sales business in the country. Urge the President of Nigeria to appoint Pre-Shipment Inspectors as ascribed by the law under the Pre-Shipment Inspection Act of 1999. The need to address the Non-takeoff of the Hydro Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPADEC) nine years after its passage into law, sponsored by Sen. Muhammad Enagi Bima and 21 others.

The Motion was passed with two resolutions below: Direct the Senate Committee on Legislative Compliance to investigate the reasons for the delay in the takeoff of the Commission and the Utilization or otherwise of the total sum of N612, 177, 269 appropriated so far to it and report back to the Senate within four weeks for further legislative action. Urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency constitute the Commission and make funds available for it in 2020 budget.

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