Senator Shehu Sani
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, Shehu Sani, said Kaduna State Government’s request for a $350 million loan was rejected due to the state’s high debt profile.
Mr Sani told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that senators from the state supported the rejection of the request.
According to him, approving the loan for a state with a high debt profile would put a lot of burden on future generations of the state.
The Senate had on March 29, rejected the World Bank loan sought by the Kaduna State Government for developmental projects.
The request was also opposed by the three senators representing the state.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai at a public function on Friday cursed three senators representing the state for opposing a $350 million loan being sought from the World Bank by his government.
He also described the senators as “enemies of the state, people and All Progressive Congress”.
Mr Sani, who represents Kaduna Central vowed not to be part of any move that would jeopardise the lives of unborn children in the state.
“We rejected the loan to save the children of Kaduna State from the slavery of debt that will overtake them in the future.
“Most political elite leave behind for their children, hotels, houses, mansions and estates, but they leave mountains of debts for the children of the poor.
“I do not see the reason why state governors cannot use the Paris Refund, the bailout funds and Excess Crude Account distributions to execute their projects and programmes. Why must they go for loans?
“If the loan is even reasonable, you will look at it from that point of view. The tenure of a government is at most eight years and you leave behind 20, 30, 40 years of loan for people to pay,’’ he said.
He said that as chairman of the committee on loans, he owed it a duty to the state and all other states to ensure that states that were in debt did not acquire more debts.
“It is my duty as the chairman of the committee to do what I need to do to save a state that is already in so much debt.
“My state is indebted to the tune of about $225 million, the second most indebted state in the country and you tell me to approve another loan of 350 million dollar.
“We had to turn down the request. If it is me, people will say I have a running battle with the governor but the other two senators are equally opposed to it,” the lawmaker explained.
Mr Sani, who is also Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, stressed that obtaining a loan for a state that did not have vibrant industrial sector would be a burden on citizens.
He said “We were not convinced, that is the fact. You cannot take half a billion dollar debt for a state that does not have any functional industry.
“All the textile industries in the state have closed down and the several cases of kidnap in the state have driven many people out of town.
“So, the governor should use the meagre resources available to run the state.
“If Gombe State is where it is today and other states like Sokoto are still working and they have never approached us for loan, why Kaduna State.’’
Mr Sani added that senators from the state were not privy to the loan, and that the error contributed to its unanimous rejection.
“How can you be governor of a state and all your three senators, including the one from PDP, are opposed to it? I have never heard of it. I have treated cases of loan here as the chairman of committee on local and foreign debt.
“There were cases where one senator is opposed to it but two are for it or the other way round. As a governor of a state, if you are desirous of a loan, the first people you should consult are the legislators; he did not do that.
“So, I do not think the attitude of consistent insult on us and the institution of the National Assembly will be of value. If you need loan you do not go insulting a bank manager; you have to convince him that you are worth it,” he said.