Buhari seeks Senate approval for $6.9bn loan

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested for the approval of the senate to borrow $6.9b for infrastructural development.

The President in a letter read by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said $5.8bn would be borrowed from the Chinese Exim bank for the repair of the railway transport sector.

He said $1.1b would be taken from the World Bank for the North East geopolitical zone and social security program of his administration.

According to the letter, President Buhari said, “I wish to refer to my earlier letter in respect to the above subject and to inform the distinguished Senate that the China Exim Bank has approved their request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project Lagos-Ibadan segment for a sum of $1. 231billion. The Chinese have also informed us that the approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project Kano-Kaduna segment and coastal railway project Lagos-Calabar segment are eminent.”

Speaking further he said “China exim supported projects such as Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, the Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231billion Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-kaduna segment$1.146 billion Coastal railway project, Lagos-Calabar segment $3.474 billion, making a total of $5.851 billion.”

He explained that the funds available under the China-Africa Fund, are limited and loan applications from all African countries are funded based on first come first serve. Therefore there is an urgent need for Nigeria to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or Nigeria might lose out in the event if there is a delay in signing the loan agreement.

These loans according to him, form part of the overall rail funding strategy, noting that “We are already in the process of completing the concession of the portharcourt-Maiduguri Line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation. We fully intend to source further concessionary funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard gauge line. This project forms part of our overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth,” he stressed.

The president in the letter reminded the senators about his earlier request for the speedy clearance of some emergency projects earmarked for the north-east in the 2016-2018 borrowing plan.

”You will also recall that my request was based on the need to consolidate the relative peace at that time. Since then, the situation as you are aware has changed dramatically and introduce even more urgency to the situation in the zone than ever before,” he stated.

He further said that while the capture and destruction of the stronghold of boko haram in the Sambisa forest was a welcome news, the recent unfortunate incident of the bombing of an IDP camp by mistake with lose of civilian lives brings to the fore the need to resettle the people back to their homes quickly in order to avoid such incidence in the future.

He said there is need for urgent consideration of the identified projects which will enable reconstruction and rehabilitation process of the region in order to create jobs for the people and rehabilitate the schools to get the children off the streets and into schools.

The World Bank he added has approved a sum of $575 million to assist the Federal Government in these reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts as well as for the procurement of vaccines and other ancillary facilities for national routine immunisation to eradicate polio after the outbreak in the North-east in 2016.

The projects earmarked for the emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction in the Nort-east as follows;

Previously requested emergency World Bank Supported projects, Polio eradication support and routine immunisation project125 million dollars, Community and social development project 75 million dollars, Nigeria’s states health programme investment project 125 million dollars, State education programme investment project 100 million dollars, Nigeria youth employment and social support project 100 million dollars, Fadama 3 project 50 million dollars. Making a total 575 million dollars.

He also informed the senate that the national social safety net programme which is intended to assist the poor and most vulnerable people in the society nationwide started this January 2017 with the first cash transfer payments in 8 states.

However in order to expand the programme to all the states, there is need for additional resources to the 2017 budgetary allocation.

”It is for this reason that I am requesting your early consideration of the proposed World Bank Assisted 500 million dollar loan to help expand the assistance and support to the poor and most vulnerable especially in this difficult time. Additional emergency World Bank supported project social inclusion and welfare advancement project 500 million dollars, total 500 million dollars.”

“Given the current state of our economy and the need to adequately address some of our infrastructural deficiencies in order to quickly improve the livelihood of our people. It has become imperative that we work together in expeditious way to get our economy out of recession and back to growth,” the President requested.

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