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



The Senate Chamber

Barely 24 hours after kicking against the proposed $200 million for procurement of mosquito nets and malaria medicines, the Senate, through its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, again opposed President Muhammadu Buhari’s $700million World Bank loan request to the National Assembly for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, SURWASH under the Ministry of Water Resources.

This was even as the Senate panel summoned the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu to give details of previous loans on water projects across the country.

Members of the committee, who took turn to fault the loan for SURWASH, asked the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to furnish the panel with update of loans collected so far for water projects in the ministry.

According to the chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP Edo Central), said three different loans have been approved for various water projects by the upper legislative chamber.

He said: “$450 million for the ministry for water project being financed by Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under integrated programme for development also financed by Africa Development Bank and Gurara Water Project.

“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects.”

The committee, therefore, summoned the Minister of Water Resources to appear for explanation on the loans and state of loans collected so far by the ministry.

Speaking against the loan, Senator Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi Central), said that he would oppose approval for the loan “because some loans have been collected for water projects and yet to see result.”

“Loan on water project? I don’t support this one again, enough is enough,” he said.

Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central), asked for the criteria for selecting benefiting states, adding that details provided by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry is not enough to justify the loan.

He said: “What is the criteria for selecting benefiting states, the details you are providing is not enough. What are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how many water are you going to do?

“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity, do we need loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own?

Also, Senator Sani Musa (APC Niger South) kicked against the loan and advised the committee to look at all the requests and pick the one that is necessary.

“We should look at this loan and take the one that are necessary and we should abandon the one that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically,” he said.

Similarly, Senator Mohammed Enagi (APC Niger East) protested against the request for $700 million loan for SURWASH, demanding for state of Gurara project from the ministry.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Esther Didi Walson-Jack who was unable to give explanation to the previous loans approved for water projects told the committee that SURWASH will last for five years.

She added that $640 million will be used for the project while the $60 million will be used for capacity building.

The Permanent Secretary said that the proposal was negotiated with World Bank on April, 2022 and was approved at Federal Executive Council, FEC on August 11, 2021.

She listed the states that will benefit from the World Bank $700 loan as Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175 million.

The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene, WASH services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 communities to achieve open defecation free status.

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