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Gbaja: We suspended $22.7bn loan request over south-east ‘exclusion’

Chinedu Asadu

Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, says the green chamber suspended consideration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request over the reported sidelining of the south-east.

Gbajabiamila said this when he hosted Leaders of Faith Forum from the south-south and south-east in Abuja on Wednesday.

South-east senators had alleged the exclusion of the region in the spending plan for the proposed $22.7 billion.

Although the senate already approved the president’s request, the house stepped down the matter when it was called up for debate.

Both chambers of the national assembly have to agree for the loan to take effect.

Gbajabiamila said while the federal government believes the loan is important, all regions ought to be captured in the spending plan.

“If government believes that there’s need for the loan, I think we should support that, because they know as they’re the ones that see what is needed and what is not needed,” he said.

“What I think for me is more important is the equity of the law and whether or not we’re able to distribute these things fairly considering the very nature of the structure of our country.

“I know there has been a lot of agitation about the south-east not benefiting from the loan. It is one of the reasons we haven’t considered the loan in the house. I’ve discussed with the finance minister and the DG budget (office).

“It’s a matter that we’re looking at seriously. I’m hoping that there will be some kind of amicable resolution so that everybody will be carried along. Equity suggests that all zones must be carried along.”

The speaker said the house will work towards a “fair resolution” of the issue so that it leads to “something that will bring us together and unite us as a country.”

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