El-Rufai, Sani and the Kaduna $350m loan quagmire

OrderPaperToday – The frosty relationship between the legislators especially Senators and their state governors have overtime been expressed in several dimensions, including through outbursts and tirade on the floor of the chamber. Such scenarios have been seen in Kogi, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Rivers states among others.

Of all these situations, Kaduna state appears to be at the extreme with the three senators completely against the administration of their governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. They firmly manifested this opposition in the case of the $350 million loan request made by the state government to the Senate.

To rub it in, the Senate snubbed Kaduna and went ahead to approve the Ogun State Development Policy Operation (DPO) loan of US$350 million from World Bank on the 10th of November, 2017, a similar amount request by el-Rufai.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign debts, Sen. Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) severally declared that his committee could not be stampeded into approving the Kaduna loan request as details of the proposed borrowing must be scrutinized thoroughly and due process fully complied with. Sani’s statements were in response to persistent pressures from some interest groups in his state. According to him, “the next generations will ask questions and it is the person who approves the money whose name would be seen. The contractor’s name would not be there and the person who is borrowing his name will not be seen but that of the one who approved.” The Committee on Local and Foreign Debt claimed Ogun state had a healthy debt profile to warrant such loan while in the case of Kaduna, it advised that the state is the second most indebted in the country and if approved would “erode the economic viability of the state.”

The other two senators, Suleiman Hukunyi (APC, Kaduna North) and Danjuma La’ah (PDP, Kaduna South) from the state held similar view. Some analysts however, believe that the lawmakers used their legislative powers and prerogative to stop the loan in manifestation of their friction with Governor el-Rufai. Some others laud the move by the senators, a move they say, is imperative to prevent Nigeria from being plunged into more debt that would not be able to be paid back in years. The disagreement over the loan request denial also reverberated in the House of Representatives as Mr. Datti Babawo, who claimed to be the leader of the Kaduna caucus, condemned the rejection by the Senate. Immediately, 6 lawmakers from the green chamber dismissed and dissociated themselves from the statement, denying ever convening a meeting to that effect.

Despite the rejection, the state government has vowed to go ahead with its request to the World Bank on the 30th of March, 2018. The state commissioner of finance, Suleiman Kwari, at a news briefing also accused the three senators from the state of putting “their personal frustrations above the right of Kaduna state” by “elevating the ego of its members above the demands of public policy.” Kwari added that “no amount of blackmail, no amount of intimidation, no amount of misrepresentation, there is no going back for us as long as moving the state forward is concerned. If we can pass through World Bank processes to get to this stage, then there is still hope to get the loan for the development of the state.”

Meanwhile the only input made so far from the Kaduna State House of Assembly was on the 17th October 2017, when it urged for the support of the Senate to enable the state gain access to the loan after meeting with Governor el-Rufai. Concerns are raised at the state assembly’s rather mute intervention in the ongoing quagmire. Thoughts expressed by political analysts are that the state assembly is handicapped as a result of being at the behest of the state governor which might possibly have impeded their contribution to this predicament.

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