Exclusion of South East, Edo from $22.7b loan amounts to ‘apartheid’ policy:- says HURIWA

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Gentlemen of the media, permit us to frontload this speech by skipping the usual protocols because of the urgency of the matter.

COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO

We are here to condemn the deliberate scheming out of over 60 million Nigerians of Igbo extraction in the proposed foreign loan shopping list of $22.7 billion prepared by President Muhammadu Buhari and approved by the senate dominated by the All Progressives Congress and also headed by a northerner in the person of Ahmed Lawan.

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The exclusion of another 5 million citizens of over 20 ethnic nationalities from Edo state stands absolutely condemnable. We believe that this policy is akin to the apartheid white minority rule that was practiced in South Africa prior to the current majority rule of the blacks. This policy of exclusion also violates section 42 of the Nigerian constitution which states as follows: “(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions. (2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth. (3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes restrictions with respect to the appointment of any person to any office under the State or as a member of the armed forces of the Federation or member of the Nigeria Police Forces or to an office in the service of a body, corporate established directly by any law in force in Nigeria.”

Section 15(5) states “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”

Section 16(1)(2) states: “(1) The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution. (a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy; (b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity; (c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sectors of the economy; (d) without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sector of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy. (2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring: (a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development; (b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good; (c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group; and (d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.”

The exclusion of the south east and Edo State, which is provocative, unconstitutional, primitive and discriminatory, is said to be a fallout of what has been described as the dirty politics that preceded the approval of the loan request which President Muhammadu Buhari presented twice to the National Assembly and eventually got approved by the Senator Ahmed Lawan-led ninth Senate.

The eighth Senate under the very ebullient and activist Bukola Saraki had rejected the loan on the grounds of lack of details.

However, in a total show of shame, the 9th Senate ignored all requests to allow for debate on the details of the loan and approved the document amidst protest and uproar.

President (Major General) Buhari had said that the loan was to “ensure the prompt implementation of projects under the borrowing plan with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes, governance and financial management reforms, among others.”

Details of the loan, as approved by the Senate, showed that the South West got $200,000,000.00 while the South South, excluding Edo State, got $4,270,000,000.00. The South East which produced 15 of the 109 senators got nothing from the loan.

And more shocking is the fact that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Clifford Ordia, which processed the loan request and recommended its approval, represents Edo Central.

However, the North West, which produced President Buhari, got $6,372,000,000.00 just as the North East got $300,000,000.00 while the North Central got $6,531,000,000 and $5,853,900,000.00 was reserved for general expenses.

In more specific details, the power transmission project in Lagos and Ogun states were given $200 million just as $800m was voted for the East west road in the Niger Delta.

The coastal railway project (Calabar-Port Harcourt-Onne deep sea port segment got $3.47billion (Cross River and Rivers states.)

Projects in the North East that were covered in the loan are the multi-sectoral crises recovery programme ($200m, north-east), North-east Nigeria integrated social protection, basic health, education, nutrition services and livelihood restoration project ($100m); and the Lake Chad Basin Commission ($13m, multinational).

In the North West, the following projects were captured by the loan:

“Kano-Lagos railway modernization project (Kano-Ibadan segment double track, $5.53billion; and vocational training in power sector ($50m; FCT, Lagos, Ogun. Kano, Plateau, Niger, Enugu, Kaduna and Cross River).

Others are: Kaduna State economic transformation programme for results ($35m, Kaduna); National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructural Backbone Project (NICTIB) phase II ($328.1m (Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Lokoja, Kaduna, Akwanga, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina); Health System Project ($110m, Katsina); Rural water supply and sanitation ($150m; north-east, and Plateau); and development of the mining industry ($150m, nationwide).

In the North Central, these projects were covered: Staple crops processing zone support project ($100m, Kogi); Greater Abuja water supply project ($381m, FCT); Abuja mass rail transit project (phase 2) ($1.25b, FCT); Mambila hydro-electric power project ($4.8b; and Taraba integrated programme for development and adaption to climate change in the Niger Basin ($6m)

It was gathered that only 60 per cent of the loan would be available for spending as 40 per cent is to be paid to those who offered consultancy services regarding the loan.

The source disclosed that although the Federal Government was aware that the remaining 60 per cent would not be enough for the projects for which the loan was sought, it had insisted on getting it loan because it intended to seek a second loan later in the year.

“A request for the second loan would soon be sent to the National Assembly, “the source said.

Lawan had during his heated argument with the Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, before the approval of the loan insisted that the recommendation of the committee should be taken and adopted. Abaribe had also insisted that debate on the loan be on project by project basis.

In the politics that played out shortly after the inauguration of the 9th Senate, the PDP caucus had replaced Clifford Ordia with Sahabi Yau from Zamfara State as Senate deputy minority whip, a development, which was very unpleasant to Ordia.

Since then, it was learnt that the PDP caucus had never found it easy to prevail on Ordia to do its bidding.

Recommended steps:

  1. It is already a national emergency which must be remedied tomorrow by the Federal House of Representatives which is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the loan request. It is either that South East / Edo are included or the states in the S/E and Edo state should stage an open walk out and not be part of the show of shame.
  • We condemn the south east senators who stayed away for fear of EFCC or DSS so as to allow the pliant senate headed by the stooge to approve the loan. Why did they stay away and left just Enyinnaya Abaribe and a few others? Senator Ekweremadu said he was on a national assignment that was why he was not at that senate plenary when this decision that will affect all Nigerians for 40 years was made. We ask him thus: Did Enugu North people elect you for national assignment or to defend their interests?

We call on the south east governors to file a suit at the Supreme Court to stop the Federal government from compelling south east to be part of the repayment if we are not part of the beneficiaries. This suit must be filed immediately.

We also call on Nigerians to call on the Federal government to stop enslaving Nigeria to the apron strings of foreign creditors such as China.

Nigeria’s external debt commitment rose by $11.77bn in the last three years, investigation has shown.

According to debt statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office, the country’s external debt rose from $10.32bn in June 30, 2015 to $22.08bn as of June 30 this year.

This means that the country’s external debt commitment has grown by 114.05 per cent in the last three years.

Although multilateral debt made up $10.88bn or 49.28 per cent of the country’s external debt profile, most of the increases in the last three years occurred in the area of commercial loans.

According to the DMO, commercial foreign loans, which stood at $1.5bn as of June 30, 2015, had risen to $8.8bn as of June 30 2018.

This means that in the last three years, the country’s exposure to commercial foreign loans has risen by $7.3bn or 486.67 per cent.

With a commitment of $8.47bn, the World Bank is responsible for 38.36 per cent of the country’s foreign portfolio.

Apart from the World Bank Group, Nigeria is also exposed to some other multilateral organisations such as the African Development Bank with a portfolio of $1.32bn and the African Development Fund with a portfolio of $843.47m.

Others are the International Fund for Agricultural Development with a portfolio of $159.44m; the Arab Bank for Economic Development with a portfolio of $5.88m; the EDF Energy (France) with a portfolio of $64.96m and the Islamic Development Bank with a portfolio of $16.92m.

On the other hand, bilateral debts make up $2.39bn or 10.87 per cent of the country’s external debt exposure.

The bilateral agencies to which the country is indebted are the Export-Import Bank of China with a portfolio of $1.91bn; the Agence Francaise de Development with a portfolio of $274.98m; the Japan International Cooperation Agency with a portfolio of $74.69m; the EXIM Bank of India with a portfolio of $4.76m; and Germany (KFW) with a portfolio of $132.24m.

Unlike the foreign debt, the domestic component of the country’s total public debt decreased marginally recently as a result of moves to rebalance the local/foreign debt ratio.

According to the DMO, a major highlight in the latest public debt data was the decrease in the Federal Government’s domestic debt, which declined from N12.59tn in December 2017 to N12.58tn in March 2017 and N12.15tn in June 2018.

The DMO said the reduction in the FGN’s Domestic Debt Stock arose from the redemption of N198bn Nigerian Treasury Bills in December 2017 and another N639bn between January and June 2018.

A total of $3bn was raised through Eurobonds to refinance maturing domestic debt as part of the implementation of the debt management strategy for the purpose of substituting high cost domestic debt with lower cost external debt to reduce debt service costs for the government, the DMO said.

It also explained that the implementation of the Public Debt Management Strategy, whose overall objective was to ensure that Nigeria’s debt is sustainable, was already yielding positive results.

The implication is that in the next 40 years, every one of us Nigerian citizens will effectively become a slave.

We urge Nigerians to file a class suit before the Federal High Court to clearly show that both they and their generations yet unborn are not part of all the loans collected by the current government.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko;

National Coordinator;

HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

16th March 2020

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