Members of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, on Wednesday, kicked against President Muhammadu Buhari’s $700 million loan request to the National Assembly for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) under the Ministry of Water Resources.
This is coming 24 hours after the Ministry of Health appeared before the committee to seek approval for $200 million loans for procurement of mosquito nets and Malaria medicines.
The lawmakers who took a turn to fault the loan for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) asked the Ministry to furnish the committee with updates of the loans collected so far for the water projects in the Ministry.
According to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, stated that three different loans have been approved for various water projects.
Ordia said: “$450 million for the Ministry for water project being financed by Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under the integrated program 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, agreed to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman, to appear before it to give an explanation on the loans and state of loans collected so far.
Speaking against the loan, Senator Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi Central) said that he will be against approval for the loan because some of the loans collected so far for water projects are without result.
He said: “This loan, I don’t support this one again, enough is enough ”
Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central) asked what is the criteria for selecting benefiting states adding that details provided by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry is not enough to justify the loan.
Oloriegbe asked: “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 projects are you going to do”.
“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity, do we need a loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own.”
Senator Sani Musa (APC Niger) while kicking against the loan advised the Committee to look at all the requests and pick the one that is necessary.
The Niger Senator said: “We should look at this loan and take the ones that are necessary and we should abandoned the ones that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.”
Senator Brima Enagi also protested against the request for $700 million loans for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) demanded to know the state of the 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 an explanation to the previous loans approved for water projects told the Committee that Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (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 2021 and was approved at Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 11, 2021.
States that will benefit from the $700 loan from World Bank are 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.