Barely five days to the end of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, asked the Senate to approve a request to pay judgement debt in the sums of $566,754,584.31, £98,526,012.00, and N226, 281,801,881.64.
But legal Icon and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola, called on the Senate and House of Representatives to decline an $800 million fresh loan request tendered by Buhari.
Buhari said the federal government owed the judgement debt through the issuance of promissory notes.
Buhari’s letter of request was read at plenary by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
Promissory Note is a signed document containing a written promise to pay a stated sum to a specified person or the bearer at a specified date or on demand. It ensures that a borrower agrees to be indebted to a lender for loan repayment.
Buhari’s letter read, “The Distinguished Senate President may wish to be informed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting of March 29, 2023, approved the liquidations of top priority judgement debts and general judgement debts owed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) through the issuance of promissory notes.
“The judgement debts are to be settled through the issuance of promissory notes, which will then be redeemed over time through provisions in the budgets of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Thus, debt securities have been issued for the settlement of the judgement debts and approval of the National Assembly is required for this purpose.
“In view of the foregoing, I wish to request the Senate to kindly consider and approve through its resolution the settlement of the top priority judgement debts and general judgement debts incurred by Federal MDAs in the sum of $566,754,584.31, £98,526,012.00 and N226,281,801,881.64 through the issuance of promissory notes.
“The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning shall provide any information that may be required by the Senate for the consideration of this request.”
However, Babalola urged the National Assembly to decline the $800 million fresh loan request tendered by Buhari. Babalola stated this yesterday, while addressing newsmen at a public lecture organised in his honour by the Adetunji Fasanmi-led Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ado Ekiti branch, held at ABUAD.
The 12th series of the lecture was part of the 2023 Law Week in the state.
Babalola said Nigeria was suffering from the trauma of outstanding debts; hence, there was no reason for fresh loans, especially, when the president would exit office on May 29. He pointed out that no country or financial institution would lend the country money, considering the trillion dollars in debt it owed.
According to Babalola, “How can we be owing so many trillion of dollars and yet when you are about to leave office, you are asking for another $800 million?
“If you have the right type of House of Assembly, they would say, no. They would say they can’t do it, because the interest would be high and there are outstanding debts on the ground.
“How can you be an undeclared bankrupt, and yet borrowing money? It’s not allowed, I don’t think anyone can still give us further loans to the trillions of naira we are owing now and I believe that the parliament will reject it.”
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly for a fresh $800 million loan to finance the National Social Safety Network Programme (NSSNP). He said the programme was intended to expand coverage of shock responsive safety net support among poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
Earlier, Fasanmi noted that the 2023 Law Week was crucial and monumental, considering the timing and current happenings in the country.
The NBA chairman said, “This year’s event is monumental because it is happening at a time when Nigeria, our dear country, is going through a democratic transition. Hopes are high and expectations are high for economic restoration and national development in the new dispensation.”
Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State, in his address, pledged partnership with the NBA state chapter in the formulation of right economic policies.
Oyebanji, represented by Femi Onipinde, hailed the role of NBA in the state, adding that his partnership with NBA will foster unity and smooth running of his administration.
Sunday Aborisade and Gbenga Sodeinde