Southeast NASS Caucus protest exclusion of zone from FG $22.7 billion loan plan

National Assembly Complex, Abuja

By Saminu Ibrahim

Apparently dissatisfied with the $22.7 billion loan plan by the federal government which reportedly excluded the southeast geopolitical zone, lawmakers from the zone on Thursday protested to the leadership of the National Assembly.

The southeast National Assembly caucus observed that no single project was captured in the zone to be executed with the proposed loan plan.

Rising from a meeting with the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, on Thursday, the caucus described the exclusion of the Southeast zone from the list of projects to be financed with the loan as regrettable.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting, Senator Ike Ekweremadu accompanied by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), Rochas Okorocha (APC, Imo West), Michael Amah Nnachi (PDP, Ebonyi South), Deputy Whip of House of Reps, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu and Hon. Obinna Chidoka (PDP, Anambra) said the caucus had extracted serious commitments from the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly to reverse the  exclusion of the Southeast zone from projects earmarked to be undertaken with the facility.

Ekweremadu lauded the Deputy minority Leader of the Senate for the defense of the interest of the Southeast during the debate on the loan at Senate plenary of Thursday.
“Regrettably, last Thursday, Senate passed the borrowing plan which excluded the whole of Southeast.

“I like to use this opportunity to thank our distinguished colleagues who were present in the Chambers on that day especially Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who made effort to get the matter addressed on the issue of equity.

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“Most of us were not in Chambers. I was in Lagos for INEC retreat on electoral reforms, I want to commend him for effort he made during the conversation.

“So, we met as a caucus of the Southeast last night after consulting with our people to get their feelings and we decided that the best approach is constructive engagement with the leadership.

“So, this afternoon we engaged the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“We are here to report that we had a meaningful discussion; they showed not just concern, but commitment in addressing the issues and we are satisfied with assurances that either the matter be revisited or as the House has not yet passed the motion, the appropriate thing be done so that our people’s fears can be addressed.

“We like to thank the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for their commitment to national unity of the country and to ensure that justice is done in all parts of the country. We believe that equity should be the way for our country to make progress”.

He continued “Our thinking was that what the Federal government presented was a borrowing plan for us to have opportunity to look at the distribution because we believe that every part and parcel of Nigeria should be part of that loan.

“We are concerned about the facilities for eastern corridor of the Nigerian railway; we are also concerned about access to the sea in the Southeast and also power projects.

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He however, assured that the caucus believed in the ability and sincerity of the leadership of the National Assembly in ensuring that the loan facility distribution incorporate the Southeast, saying there is time to make amends.

Ekweremadu also denied that Southeast lawmakers were complacent in their approach to the loan issues, adding that the caucus was “engaging their colleagues in the best ways” possible to ensure that the situation was remedied.

In the same vein, Senator Ekweremadu decried what he called complete shut out of the Southeast in the leadership of the National Assembly, both at the parliamentary and management levels.

“We also looked at the issue of National Assembly bureaucracy from the Clerk to the National Assembly to the Deputy Clerk; the NILS and also the Secretary of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC).

“They promised to address our concern as soon as any vacancy exist in the areas,” Ekweremadu said.


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