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$30b Loan: Senate Won’t Shift Ground—Saraki Insists

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Nigeria’s Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, has stressed that the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly will not rescind its decision to reject the $29.96 billion loan requested by President Muhammadu Buhari about two weeks ago.

Mr Saraki, speaking on Thursday via a press statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, expressed disappointment that his meetings with the President recently was being misconstrued to mean he was being cajoled to overturn the Senate’s decision.

The Senate President advised politicians and the media to stop making empty speculations about his recent visits to the Presidential Villa.

“Like I once told the media, these politically-motivated commentaries are trivialising a serious national issue and presenting it as if it is a personal matter that can be decided at meetings between Saraki and President Muhammadu Buhari.

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“The National Assembly which I head as Senate President has taken a position on the issue as required of it by the laws of the land and legislative conventions.

“At every point, the present National Assembly will make decisions based on national interest and we have vowed that we will always act in the interest of our people. That is why despite the fact that members belong to different parties, when national issues come to the floor we forget about party affiliations and act as Nigerians elected to protect the interest of Nigeria,” Mr Saraki said.

He further said, “A visit to the Presidency by the Senate President is a normal thing because we need to consult, discuss, exchange ideas and make suggestions to each other from time to time.

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“More importantly, at this time, when the nation is facing economic crisis, there is need for frequent engagements by the Presidency and the National Assembly.

“It is in fact very unfortunate that these empty speculations by the media are now forming the basis for commentaries by some politicians who are in a position to be better informed. Politicians should stop playing to the gallery or drawing political capital from all issues.

“When serious national issues are on ground, we should refrain from making statements based on mere sentiments. Similarly, the media should exercise restraint in their reportage and commentaries in order to properly serve our people.

“At a time when we are about to prepare a budget which is aimed at responding to the current recession and our plan is to ensure all issues concerning the budget are ironed out before the budget comes to the floor so that we will have a less tedious process than that of last year, the media should be ready to witness more of these engagements between the Presidency and the National Assembly.”

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It would be recalled that shortly after the Senate rejected the loan request based on failure of the executive to present a blueprint of how it intends to spend and repay the loan, Mr Saraki visited the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, where he met President Buhari.

Mr Buhari had said he intends to use the money to provide infrastructure in the country, saying he plans to get the loan from foreign financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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