The Senate on Wednesday queried eight government ministries that failed to appear before it to provide details and defend their allocations in the $29.9 billion loan for which the Federal Government is seeking approval.
The queried federal ministries are education, power, Niger Delta, humanitarian and disaster management affairs, water resources, health, communication, and agriculture.
Consequently, the Senate has given a one-week grace period for the defaulting ministries to appear before it and proffer details of their allocations in the loan.
The agencies and states named to benefit from the loan, when approved, are about 20 but eight are yet to appear before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, according to Clifford Odia, its chairman.
Reporting the matter to Senate on Wednesday during plenary, Odia said the agencies are expected to appear before the committee to offer detailed information and explain the nature of projects the loan is meant to be used for.
On Tuesday, Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance and national planning, appeared before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts to defend the Federal Government’s request to borrow $29.9 billion.
The minister, though, said the 8th Senate had approved part of the loan and that government was seeking approval for only $22.8 billion.
Also, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, and his power and FCT counterparts, Babatunde Fashola and Mohammed Bello, as well as representatives of governors of the three states of Kaduna, Katsina and Kogi, among several others, had appeared before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on Tuesday.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who directed the queried ministries to immediately appear, said the Senate would not tolerate any act of unseriousness from any ministry.
“This Senate is committed to ensuring that such important issues like the loan are treated with seriousness by both sides. Therefore, we need the details, we need the information and so I ask the ministries that are named to have not appeared before the committee to do so between today (Wednesday) and Monday next week,” Lawan said.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in November 2019 resent to the 9th National Assembly an external borrowing request of $29.9 billion which was earlier rejected by the 8th Senate.
Buhari had said the loan would be used to achieve infrastructure projects, reduce poverty and enhance rehabilitation of the North East.
SOLOMON AYADO, Abuja