Abuja â€” The House of Representatives yesterday stopped President Umaru Yar’adua securing foreign loans, saying Nigeria is heading for another era of foreign debt burden after being granted relief by her international creditors.
The MPs in a motion sponsored by Rep Halims Agoda(PDP,Delta State) supported by 50 others also mandated the joint committee on Aids, Loans and Debt management and Justice to investigate the rationale behind the $ 3.6bn foreign loans recently obtained by the federal government.
The motion resolved: “to mandate the Joint committee on Aids, Loans and Debt management and Justice to as a matter of urgency, investigate under what platform and approval these foreign loans are being sought, processed, drawn, utilized, and their relevance to the needs of Nigerians and advice the House on legality or otherwise of the loan and report to the House within two weeks”.
It also called on the President to order an immediate halt to further foreign loans until the circumstances leading to Nigeria’s current debt burden of $3.6bn is made clear to Nigerians.
Rep Agoda expressed worries that the country which exited from her foreign debt burden through efforts of the federal government, the National Assembly and non-governmental organizations in the country, is now treading the same way, pointing out that the said loans are of no use to the development of the country.
He also expressed concern over assertions by the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin who described the $100m loan signed a few days ago as small in the face of the challenges of combating malaria and other killer diseases in the country.
According to him, the government action is tantamount to policy reversal
Rep Samson Osagie (PDP Edo State) said the country seemed to have been misplacing its priorities by borrowing, pointing out that “We have a duty to ensure that this country is not plunged into perpetual debt burden.
Rep Aminu Shehu Shagari (PDP Sokoto State) said it would have been better if such loans were obtained to resuscitate the country’s steel sector.
He said: “Mr Speaker, it would have been better of these loans were obtained to resuscitate the country’s steel sector which has the capacity to turn the nation’s economy around in a short while. Nigeria could generate about $400m annually from steel alone.
Rep Friday Itulah (PDP Edo State) said obtaining such foreign loans without recourse to the approval of the National Assembly already constitutes a breach of the Debt Management Act which make provisions for that, pointing out that while borrowing for national development was a universal practice, there was no immediate need for such loans by the country at the moment.