The Senate on Thursday approved the $22.7bn loan request of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) after a heated debate that ended up in a closed session.
The lawmakers after a closed-door session, which lasted about 45 minutes, approved the two-item recommendation of the Committee on Local and Foreign Loans, chaired by Senator Clifford Ordia.
Buhari had requested for the loan to fund critical infrastructure projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan.
The process of approving the loan by Senators however led to vehement disagreements in the upper chamber.
While some Senators supported the approval, others kicked against it.
Efforts were earlier made by Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) to postpone the consideration of the report to another legislative day.
However, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that such a postponement would be counterproductive as the findings and recommendations of the report would have already been debated in the media before the consideration.
He advised that the report be considered to forestall such an eventuality.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Ordia (Edo Central) presented the report.
As Lawan moved to subject the two recommendations in the report to vote and approval, the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe raised a point of order.
Abaribe said that it would be necessary to subject the various components of the loan to voting, especially the amounts and the lending countries.
Lawan disagreed with him and said that the Senate would only vote on the two recommendations contained in the report.
Abaribe said: “We are going to pass a loan of $22.7billion for which we are being denied the privilege to express our reservations. You are putting us in a very impossible position.
“There are some aspect of this loan that we object to. I want to ask on behalf of our colleagues here that we take these items one by one and vote on them.”
Lawan in his response said: “You (Minority Leader) have not been denied of your privilege.
“I don’t want the discussion on this loan to degenerate into partisanship. My action was was not an attempt to muscle you.”
“I want to quote one popular saying that he who goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing,” Abaribe replied.
At this point, Senator Gabriel Suswam said that he also had some objections and information on an aspect of the loan that relates to power projects in the report which he did not want to raise in the open chamber.
He urged the Senate President to allow the Senate to go into an executive session for 10 minutes to resolve the issues.
“There are contentious issues in this report. I want to appeal that we go into an executive session for 10 minutes after that we can conclude proceedings on this report,” Suswam said.
Even though Lawan earlier kicked against the suggestion for the Senate to go into an executive session, he later accepted it following apparent interventions by Senators.
The Senate after the closed door session, which lasted for about 30 minutes, approved the two recommendations in the report.