NASS South-East caucus alleges marginalisation in Buhari’s $22.7bn loan

Members of the South-East caucus in the National Assembly on Thursday met with the leadership of both chambers of the federal parliament to protest against the non-inclusion of their region among the beneficiaries of the $22.7bn foreign loan request by the President Muhammadu Buhari.

The caucus, led by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe,  met separately with the Senate President,  Ahmad Lawan; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Femi Gbajabiamila, behind closed doors.

Our correspondent learnt that the Igbo federal lawmakers were not happy with the exclusion of their region from the projects which the Federal Government  would use part of  the loan to fund.

The Senate approved the loan request in controversial circumstances last week Thursday, but the House of Representatives on Wednesday suspended deliberation on it indefinitely.

Addressing journalists after their engagements with the presiding officers, a former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who was with other lawmakers, said the position of his colleagues was that the issue of loan request be revisited since the House of Representatives had yet to approve it.

He said,  “We decided that the best approach is constructive engagement with the National Assembly leadership.

“So this afternoon, we had a very deep conversation with the Senate President and also the Speaker.

“Our thinking is that what the Federal Government presented is a borrowing plan. It is just a plan. There is still an opportunity for us to look at the distribution.

“If we are going to be part and parcel of the payment, it makes every sense that we are going to benefit from the utilisation of those funds.

“Our concerns were about certain facilities within the eastern corridor railway of Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, we are also concerned about the access to the sea for people of the South-East to open seaports in our area.

“We hope by the time the matter is addressed, the fears of the people will be allayed.”

Ekweremadu added that the caucus also protested against the lopsided nature of the National Assembly bureaucracy which, according to him, excluded the Igbo from top management positions.

He said,  “From the Clerk of the National Assembly to Deputy Clerk, Clerk of the Senate and the House, the DG of National Institute for Legislative Studies, the Chairman and Secretary National Assembly Service Commission, the same thing with the Public Complaints Commission, the South-East was excluded.”

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