Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday approved N10bn loan refund for Kogi State.
The approval did not go unchallenged as opposition lawmakers in the red chamber kicked against the decision to release the money to the ruling All Progressives Congress government in the state a few days to governorship poll.
Governor Yahaya Bello is seeking a second term in Saturday’s election.
No sooner than the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans, Senator Clifford Ordia, laid the report of his panel on the issue at plenary did the Senate President Ahmad Lawan call for the debate on it immediately.
Attempts by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, to stop the process, because it was not indicated in the order paper, was frustrated by Lawan, who insisted the arrangement was in order.
Abaribe, a Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker, represents Abia South.
Ordia, who read the report of his committee, said their findings had shown that due process was followed by the state government in executing Federal Government projects.
The PDP lawmaker, who represents Edo Central, also said the federal agencies in charge of the loan refund had approved the payment.
Senator Jibrin Barau of the APC, who spoke immediately after the presentation of the bill, asked his colleagues to approve it.
Abaribe agreed with Barau that states that had executed federal jobs should be paid.
He however said the approval appeared too hasty.
Abaribe said since the Kogi governorship election would hold on Saturday, the approval should be delayed by one week.
The ex-Abia State Deputy Governor, said, “This is not the right time to approve such a loan refund. The exigency of the time suggests we should delay for one week so that the money would not be used for something else.”
But Lawan disagreed with him, saying there was no time they won’t approve payment of the money.
He subjected the matter to a voice vote and ruled in favour of those who supported its approval despite protests from the lawmakers who raised points of order.
One of the protesters, Uche Ekwunife, a PDP legislator representing Anambra Central, wondered why the Senate President refused to take her point of order before ruling on the issue.
President Muhammadu Buhari on October 15 wrote to the Senate, seeking their approval for the money to be paid Kogi.
Buhari, in the letter, addressed to Senate President, said the money would be used by the state government to settle debts it incurred as a result of the projects executed on behalf of the FG.
He said his request was based on the resolution passed by the 8th Senate.
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