Afe Babalola faults Buhari’s $800m loan request

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Legal icon and founder of the Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola SAN has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s request, seeking National Assembly’s approval for a fresh $800 million loan to finance the National Social Safety Network Programme (NSSNP)

The request was contained in a letter read by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to lawmakers on the floor of the Senate.

Buhari wrote, “Please note that the Federal Executive Council approved an additional loan facility to the tune of USD800 million to be secured from the World Bank, for the National Social Safety Net Programme and the need to request for your consideration and approval to ensure early implementation.

“The Senate may wish to note that the programme is intended to expand coverage of shock responsive safety net support among the poor and vulnerable Nigerians. This will assist them in coping with the costs of meeting basic needs.”

Speaking at the Aare Afe Babalola 12th Annual Public Lecture organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ado Ekiti branch held at the ABUAD campus, Babalola expressed disbelieved that President Buhari could be seeking a fresh loan in a country with “undeclared bankruptcy”.

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The legal icon said he was not expecting the National Assembly to accede to such a request few days to the end of the tenure of the Buhari Administration.

According to him, “I do not expect the parliament to accede to that request. How can you be an undeclared bankrupt country and yet be borrowing more money? I do not think that any right thinking person will give us a loan with trillions of Naira debt. I believe and sincerely hope that the National Assembly will not approve it.

“The type of elections being held in the country cannot produce the right people. If we had the right people in the National Assembly they would have instantly turned down the request of President Buhari to borrow $800 million. That is why I am an advocate of a new constitution and I want you (NBA) to join me in that crusade.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan, SAN who was the guest lecturer at the occasion, has advocated that Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution must be made justiciable, saying that it would promote accountability and cause the nation’s resources to be utilized for more important projects, as well as, reduces the portion of resources available for stealing and misappropriation under whatever guise.

In his lecture titled: Addressing the Nigerian Economic Challenges through the Instrumentality of the Law and Future Economic prosperity, the Professor of Law said that implementing Chapter II would promote the wellbeing, welfare and security of the average citizen, promote economic growth and development and ensure an egalitarian society.

“A collective and legislative action would be necessary to amend section 16 or Chapter II of the Constitution and make it justiciable. This will involve a lot of awareness and advocacy actions by the Nigerian Bar Association and Coalition of Civil Societies and the Judicial Statesmen.

“Second, the Courts need to be more involved especially at the highest level- moving from just error correction to policy courts. We need the likes of Lord Denning, Justice Marshall of the United States, Justice Kayode Eso, Justice Obaseki, Justice Oputa, Justice Niki Tobi, and the like to reactivate the era of judicial activism in Nigeria.”

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