Senate bows to Melaye, Aidoko’s request, probes Kogi govt’s $500m foreign loan


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The Senate on Wednesday asked its Committee on Local and Foreign Loans to investigate alleged plan by the Kogi State government to take a $500 million foreign loan.

The loan plan, it was learnt, is without recourse to the National Assembly, which is empowered by law to approve such loan.

Two Kogi State senators – Atai Aidoko (Kogi East) and Dino Melaye (Kogi West) – who drew the attention of their colleagues to the loan plan, urged them to stop the state from taking the loan in the interest of the residents.

Melaye, in a motion, raised the alarm that the approval for the $500 million had been given by the Ministry of Finance in contravention of the law.

He prayed the Senate not to allow the alleged approval to stand.

The senator alleged that most Kogi residents were convinced that the state government would spend the loan to prosecute next year’s general elections.

Melaye also claimed that the state government did not involve the House of Assembly in the plan to obtain the loan.

He said: “The Kogi State government has approached East West Capital Corporation, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to get a loan of $500 million. That is about N186 billion. Already, the state government has borrowed about N40 billion since it came on board in 2016.

The law clearly states that any foreign loan must be approved by the National Assembly. That was not done. But I am aware that the Minister of Finance has already given the approval. The Senate cannot sit back and allow this illegality to stand. The Senate needs to stop this.”

Aidoko seconded the motion.

The Kogi East senator regretted that due to alleged mismanagement of resources in the state, Deputy Governor Simon Achuba had not been collecting salary for months.

He added that the government had not paid any allowance to the deputy governor in the last one year.

According to him, electricity supply to the official residence of the deputy governor has been disconnected by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) due to unpaid charges.

Aidoko who represents the deputy governor in the Senate also told his colleagues that the House of Assembly had adjourned sine die following the failure of the state government to pay the salaries and allowances of the lawmakers.

The senator said Kogi civil servants had not been paid in the last one year, same with judicial officers.

To worsen the situation, Aidoko said judicial officers were planning to go on strike due to the failure of the state government to pay their salaries and allowances.

He noted that despite huge funds received by the state government, it had borrowed over N40 billion since the Yahaya Bello administration came on board in January, 2016.

Aidoko said approving such a loan would create more problems for the state and its people.

Senate President Bukola Saraki ruled that a standing committee on Local and Foreign Loans was in a better position to handle the matter.

He referred the matter to the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts to, among others, ascertain the veracity of the claims by Melaye and Aidoko.

The Senate President mandated the Shehu Sani-led committee to turn in its report within 48 hours to enable the Senate take a position on the matter.

 

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