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Senate rejects FG’s N287bn loan request for water projects

The Senate has rejected a $700 million (N287bn) loan request from the Ministry of Water Resources to fund some water projects under the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH).

This came 24 hours after a request from the Ministry of Health seeking the approval of $200 million loan for the procurement of mosquito nets and malaria medicines was rejected by the lawmakers.

The lawmakers, who took turns to fault the loan for SURWASH, asked the ministry to furnish the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt with details of loans collected so far for water projects in the ministry.

According to the chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, three different loans had been approved for various water projects.

Ordia said, “$450 million for the Ministry for the water project being financed by the Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under the Integrated Programme for Development also financed by the 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, resolved to summon the minister of water resources, Adamu Suleiman, to appear before it to give explanation on the loans collected so far

Obinna Ogba said that he was against granting approval for the loan because some loans had been collected for water projects and the lawmakers were yet to see results.

He said, “This loan, I don’t support this one again; enough is enough.”

Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe asked the criteria for selecting benefiting states, adding that details provided by the permanent secretary of the ministry were not enough to justify the loan.

Oloriegbe asked, “What are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how much water 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, 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 one that is necessary and we should abandon the one that is not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.”

Senator Brima Enagi demanded to be briefed on the state of 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 explanation about the previous loans approved for water projects, told the Committee that SURWASH will last for five years.

She added that $640 million will be used for the project while the remaining $60 million will be used for capacity building.

The permanent secretary said that the proposal was negotiated with the World Bank in April 2022 and was approved at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 11, 2021.

States that will benefit from the $700 loan from the 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.

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