Senate panel rejects Buhari’s $700m loan request for water projects
The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on Wednesday rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to the National Assembly for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene under the Ministry of Water Resources.
The development happened 24 hours after the Ministry of Health appeared before the Committee to seek approval for $200m for the procurement of mosquito nets and Malaria medicines.
Members of the senate panel took a turn to fault the loan for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene.
They asked the officials of the Ministry of Water Resources led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack, to furnish the Committee with an update on loans collected so far for the Water Projects in the Ministry.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia said three different loans had been approved for various water projects.
Ordia said, “$450 million for the Ministry for water project being financed Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under the integrated program for Development also financed by Africa Development Bank and the Gurara Water Project.
“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects.”
The Committee, therefore, agreed to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman to appear to give an explanation on the loans and state of loans collected so far
Speaking against the loan, Senator Obinna Ogba said that he will be against grant approval for the loan because some loans have been collected for water projects and yet to see the result.
He said, “This particular loan? I don’t support this one again, enough is enough.”
Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe demanded the criteria for selecting the benefiting states.
He added that details provided by the Permanent Secretary were not enough to justify the loan.
The Senator said, “What is the criteria for selecting benefiting states, the details you are providing is not enough, what are the projects you want to do with $640m and how many water projects are you going to do.
“You are giving each state $3m to develop personnel capacity. Do we need loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own.”
Senator Sani Musa while rejecting the loan request, advised the Committee to look at all the requests and pick the necessary one.
The Niger Senator said, “We should look at this loan and take the ones that are necessary and we should abandon the ones that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.”
Senator Birma Enagi also protested against the request for a $700 million loan and demanded to know the state of the Gurara project from the Ministry.
The senators appeared not to be convinced with the Permanent Secretary’s explanation on the previous loans approved for water projects.
She told the Committee that the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene would last for five years.
She said, “$640m will be used for the Project while the $60m was for capacity building.
“The proposal was negotiated with the World Bank on April 2021 and was approved at Federal Executive Council on August 11, 2021.
“States that would benefit from the $700 loan from World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175 million.
“The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 Communities to achieve an end to open defecation free status,” She stated.