Members of the minority caucus in the House of Representatives, on Thursday, declined to participate in the consideration and adoption of the report by the Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management chaired by Ahmed Safana.
The report was on the external borrowing plan of the Federal Government to fund the 2021 budget, for which the President, Major General Muhamadu Buhari (retd.), sought National Assembly’s approval.
Safana had prayed the House to accept the report on Buhari’s request for the implementation of the new external borrowing of N2.34tn (about $6.18bn) in the 2021 Appropriation Act through the issuance of Eurobond in the international capital market.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, called on the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, to second the prayer by Safana, which he declined.
Elumelu said, “Bearing in mind that I do not agree that we take any loan, I decline to second. I do not agree to any further (more) loan. I therefore decline to second.”
Gbajabiamila then asked the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, to second the prayer.
However, Okechukwu said, “I don’t not think it is prudent on my part to go against what my leader declined to.”
The Speaker said, “Honourable Elumelu, Honourable Toby, I will take it that you don’t want your budget implemented.
“In fact, you were part of the passage of the budget of 2021. Were you not? The MTEF of 2021 which was a precursor to the budget, you were part of it. If you were not there, you are indicting yourself.”
Responding, the Minority Leader said he was away in his constituency to attend to his people who were under attacks.
Gbajabiamila, however, asked why Elumelu was not in the chamber when there was critical legislation like the budget to represent his constituency.
He asked, “Are you saying to your constituents who sent you here that something so important that they asked you to come and do, you were not here? I want you to repeat it to their hearing.”
The Speaker also called on another opposition Peoples Democratic Party member, Lynda Ikpeazu, who also declined to second the prayer.
Gbajabiamila asked a member who was doing his job as a representative to volunteer. Babajimi Benson of the All Progressives Congress eventually seconded the laying of the report.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter on the MTEF/FSP at the plenary on Thursday.
Gbajabiamila referred the MTEF/FSP to the House Committee on Finance.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH