Senate rejects Buhari’s $700m loan request for water projects

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THE Senate has rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to secure another $700million loan from multilateral lenders for water projects in the country.

The President had requested the upper legislative chamber to approve the loan for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene under the Ministry of Water Resources.

But the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts led by Senator Clifford Ordia, yesterday, rejected the request when it was presented at the plenary.

This came just 24 hours after the committee rejected the Ministry of Health’s request for $200million for the procurement of mosquito nets and malaria medicines in the country.

Members of the committee rejected the loan request after the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources, Esther Didi Walson-Jack, failed to convince them on why they should approve the request.

The permanent secretary also failed to explain what happened to previous loans approved for water projects.

She said $640million would be used for the project and $60illion for capacity building.

Walson-Jack said: “The proposal was negotiated with the World Bank on April 2021 and was approved at Federal Executive Council meeting on August 11, 2021.

“States that would benefit from the $700 million 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.”

In his address, Ordia said three different loans had been approved for various water projects in the country.

He said: $450 million for the ministry for water project being financed by 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 later resolved to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman, to appear before the lawmakers and explain what happened to previous loans obtained by the ministry.

In his presentation, Senator Obinna Ogba, also opposed the fresh loan request.

He said some loans were taken for water projects in the past without any tangible result.

Ogba said: “This particular loan? I don’t support this one again, enough is enough.”

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