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by Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
Senators under the All Progressives Party has said that their refusal to support the $1billion loan request of President Goodluck Jonathan was an indication that they do not support the ongoing war against the Boko Harma Insurgents.
It will be recalled that the senators had refused to give their approval of the loan to procure military hardware, though their counterparts in the Peoples Democratic Party supported it and their voice votes were upheld by Senate President David Mark during plenary on Thursday.
Senator Babafemi Ojudu, (APC, Ekiti Central),who spoke The Punch said his colleagues were not opposed to endorsing the bid by Jonathan to raise money for the military to combat terrorism but that they were opposed to borrowing money for that purpose.
He also stated that the legislators were against the idea of seeking such approval through a letter of request, instead of bringing a supplementary appropriation bill, as recognised by law.
“The Constitution recognises laid-down rules for appropriation and since the procedure adopted by the Presidency contradicted the rules, we don’t want to be part of constitution violators. Besides, we don’t believe we should borrow money for that purpose.”
Also, former Benue state Governor and opposition leader George Akume said “If we want to borrow, let us follow what is stipulated in the Constitution so that we know where we are going. We have raised fundamental issues and the Senate must be guided by the provisions of the Constitution, as far as this matter is concerned “
He insisted that APC members had raised issues that touched on the Constitution, which superseded the Procurement Act used as defence by the PDP senators.
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC, Ekiti North) also explained that the Senate approval of the loan had contradicted constitutional provisions, as contained in Sections 83, 81(4) A and B of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He argued that the loan request also had consequences for the existing Appropriation Act.
“We did not question the right of Mr. President to ask for money or to borrow money but there is a process that needs to be followed and the provisions of the Constitution for the process.”
It would be recalled that the Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Finance, and that of Local and Foreign Debt, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, while presenting his report, had clarified that all the issues raised by his colleagues in the APC were not relevant because there was no inflow or outflow of cash in the loan request.
Makarfi had said the appropriation bill could only be necessary when the request involved cash, adding that the military hardware being requested would be taken on credit and would be paid for over a period of seven years.
He said, “Each year, that we make a repayment, it will be in the Appropriation Act. The National Assembly will appropriate repayment. The Executive cannot just go and pay.”