Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the lower chamber suspended consideration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s $22.79bn loan request over the reported exclusion of the South-east region.
Gbajabiamila said this when he hosted Leaders of Faith Forum from the south-south and south-east in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said the House of Representatives was already in talks with the Federal Government on how the zone would be accommodated in the execution of projects with the loan.
The Speaker said he spoke with Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, to find a solution to the impasse.
The speaker said although the Senate already approved the president’s request, the House stepped down the matter when it was called up for debate.
“If the 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.”
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, said the visit was to discuss issues of concerns with the Speaker, saying, while they applauded the Federal Government’s food security agenda, farmlands across the country were still unsafe.
The leaders urged the government to urgently address the situation and avert impending hunger in most communities that depend on staple food like cassava and rice.
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