THE Senate has been asked to approve $12.921 billion loans as part of the Federal Government’s 2016-2018 external borrowing (rolling) plan.
The presidential request was read by Senate President Bukola Saraki in the chamber yesterday.
In the April 21 memo, “Request for approval for Federal Government 2016-2018 external borrowing rolling plan”, President Muhammadu Buhari referred to his earlier letter on the same subject matter.
The request is believed to be part of the $29.96 billion loan earlier rejected by the Senate.
The memo reads in part: “I wish to refer to my earlier letter in respect of the above subject and to inform the distinguished Senate that the China-Exim Bank has approved our request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano Railway modernisation project (Kano-Kaduna segment) for a sum of $1.231 billion.
“The Chinese have also informed us that approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project (Kano-Kaduna segment) and coastal Railway project. Lagos-Calabar segment, are imminent.”
The letter listed China-Exim supported projects to include: Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, the Lagos-Ibadan segment ($1.231billion); Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment ($1.146 billion); and Coastal Railway project, Lagos-Calabar segment ($3.474 billion) – all totalling $5.851 billion.
It added: “As you are aware, the funds available under the China/Africa fund are limited and loan applications from all African countries are funded based on first come first serve.
“And therefore, there is an urgent need for us to sign these loans as soon as they are approved, or we will lose out in the event that we delay in signing the loan agreement. These loans form part of our overall rail funding strategy.
“We are already in the process of completing the concession of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation.
“We fully intend to source further consessioning funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard guage line.
“These projects form part of our overall plans to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth.
“You may also recall my earlier request for the speedy clearance of some emergency projects earmarked for the Northeast in the 2016-2018 borrowing plan.
“You will also recall that my request was based on the need to consolidate the relative peace at that time. Since then the situation as you are aware, has changed dramatically and introduced even more urgency to the situation in the zone than ever before.
“While the capture and destruction of the stronghold of Boko Haram in Sambisa forest was a welcome news, the recent and unfortunate incident of the bombing of an IDP camp by mistake with loss of civilian lives, brings to the fore the need to resettle the people back to their homes quickly in other to avoid such incidence in the future.
“However, for us to be able to do this, there is need for urgent consideration of the identified projects, which will enable us to start reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region in other to create jobs for the people and rehabilitate the schools to get the children of the streets into schools.”
The letter said that the World Bank has approved a sum of $575 million to assist the Federal Government’s reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, as well as for the procurement of vaccines and other ancillary facilities for national routine immunisation to eradicate polio after the outbreak in the Northeast last year.
It list the projects earmarked for the emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction in the Northeast as previously requested emergency World Bank-supported projects as:
- Polio eradication support and routine immunisation project ($125 million);
- Community and social development project ($75 million);
- Nigeria’s states health programme investment project ($125 million);
- State education programme investment programme investment project ($100 million);
- Nigeria youth employment and social support project ($100 million); and
- Fadama III Project $50 million (totalling $575 million).
President Buhari also informed the Red Chamber that “our national Social Safety Net programme, which is intended to assist the poor and most vulnerable people in our society nationwide started this January 2017 with the first cash transfer payments in eight states.
“For us to expand the programme to all the states, we need additional resources in addition to our 2017 budgetary allocation.
“It is for this reason that I am requesting your early consideration of a proposed World Bank-assisted $500 million loan to help expand the assistance and support to the poor, our most vulnerable especially in these difficult times.”
He listed additional emergency World Bank supported projects to include, “Social inclusion and welfare advancement project $500 million.”
President Buhari noted that giving the current state of the country’s economy and the need to urgently address some infrastructural deficiencies in other to quickly improve the livelihood of Nigerians, “it has become imperative that we work together in an expeditious way to get our economy out of recession and back to growth.”
He appealed to the Senate, for an expeditious consideration and approval of the requests, which he said will go a long way in bringing stability to the Northeast and improvement on the infrastructure and by extension a great improvement in the economy and livelihood of our people.
“In view of the above, the Distinguished Senate is invited to urgently consider and approve all the above projects totaling a sum of $6.926 billion to enable us commence the construction and rehabilitation of the Northeast, provide for the poor and most vulnerable people and commence rail projects in earnest”, Buhari said in his memo to the senators.