• Bill seeking women empowerment, gender equality hits wall
Senate has approved $5,803,364,553.50 and a grant component of $10 million under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.
The approval followed consideration of a report by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, in his presentation, said $2,300,000,000 would be sourced from the World Bank; $2,300,000,000 from a German Consortium; $90,000,000 from Islamic Development Bank; 786,382,967 from China Exim Bank; $276,981,586.50 from Bank of China; and $50,000,000 from International Fund for Agricultural Development.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, in a communication dated May 6, 2021, had requested Senate to consider and approve the Federal Government’s 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.
According to him, the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan contained a request for approval in the sum of $36,837,281,256 plus €910,000,000 and grant component of $10,000,000.
Ordia noted that a report was laid by his committee before the Senate in July 2021 recommending approval of $8,575,526,537 and €490,000,000.
He said that on September 15, 2021, the Senate President read another communication from the President containing an addendum to the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan in the sum of $4,054,476,863, €710,000,000 and grant component of $125,000, 000 for various projects and same was also referred to the committee for further legislative action.
Consequently, Ordia stated that a second report was laid by the Local and Foreign Debts Committee before the Senate in November 2021 recommending approval of $16,229,577,718, €1,020,000,000 and $125,000,000.
In accordance with the recommendation of the committee, the Senate, at plenary in November 2021, approved the sum as financing for projects as recommended by the panel.
He explained that the request for approval of $5.8 billion was part of the mandate of the committee in respect of the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.
MEANWHILE, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, indicated that public hearing on bills to be passed into law at the upper legislative chamber might just be mere formality, as all decisions about such bills start and end in the chambers.
Lawan spoke against the backdrop of a bill seeking to promote women empowerment and gender equality.
He said: “We will be stretching our luck if we say, ‘Let us go for public hearing’. Like the Leader said, it starts and ends here, not any other person outside.”
The bill suffered another setback as most senators were divided along religious lines.
The bill, which was first brought to the Senate during the 7th Assembly, was shot down both in the 7th and 8th Senate.
It is likely to suffer the same fate, as the Senate, yesterday, compelled the sponsor, Senator Biodun Olujimi, to stand it down.
She withdrew the bill after some senators, who kicked against it, raised “socio-cultural and Islamic concerns”.
She pointed out that she consulted widely, with 62 of her colleagues asking to be listed as co- sponsors. But to her chagrin, when it mattered most, she seemed to be standing alone.