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$22.7 billion loan request generates heated debate in Senate



There was argument and counter-argument at the Senate on Thursday’s plenary over the procedure for loan requests by states

The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan had asked that partisanship debate on loans be avoided, following discovery of flaws in the report submitted by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Loans and Local Debts, Senator Clifford Ordia.

Senate Minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe insisted that Senate should debate on the report to determine its merit or otherwise amid skepticism that the report would be turned down.

Abaribe explained that the committee submitted the report so that there could be inputs. ‘We want to make inputs and we are being shut down and that is not very good for the economy of this country”. He lamented

Reacting, Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan said he did not want the debate degenerating to partisanship.

“Minority leader, I don’t want this debate to degenerate into partisanship This shouldn’t degenerate into partisanship because this is all about our country, please.

“I recognize you for the two times you raise your hands; the only time I denied you is when you came under order 43 and under order 25(h) and my understanding of the law is at least, you are supposed to intimate me of what you are going to say.

“I am not making any effort to muzzle you. There is nothing wrong in voting against what you don’t want.

“Nobody is saying you shouldn’t do that and if you have anything that will guide us to process this report, you can do that and I think you are getting me wrongly.

Abaribe insisted that the process of debating the report was being tampered with, saying that if that was allowed, lawmakers have no business coming to the chambers.

He said: “You are putting us in a very impossible situation because you are giving us what we will approve, we either say yes or we say. The way we do our debate here, we must look at each item whether each should go or not to go and this is even about Nigeria.

“This is not about partisanship, so if you want to talk about partisanship, my colleagues here are all complaining that this is lopsided news.

“So Mr. President, I want to ask on behalf of all our colleagues here that we take this issue item by item and not just pass everything. If we do that, then we don’t need to sit here and do anything.

Lawan maintained that he wasn’t out to suppress any lawmaker, noting that he never believed in shutting people from expressing their opinion.

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