Senate Committee Grills Water Ministry On Proposed $640m Loan - 9japarrot


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Friday 29 October 2021

Senate Committee Grills Water Ministry On Proposed $640m Loan

The Nigerian Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts as part of her oversight function over the executive arm grilled the Federal Ministry of Water Resources demanding detailed explanations backed with documents regarding the loan request for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) under the Ministry.

The scrutiny came up on Wednesday during the ministry's budget defence session where the Permanent Secretary, was drilled by the committee members as they demanded a detailed explanation on the proposed loan, and previous ones collected so far for water projects in the ministry.

 In his contributions, the Senator representing Kwara Central, *Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe* who faulted the loan request, sought to know the criteria for picking the benefiting states and upbraided the scant details of the ministry's permanent secretary on the loan.

“What is the criterion for selecting benefiting states? The details you are providing is not enough. What are the projects you want to do with $640 million and we need to know specifically how many water projects you will use this money for? Because I will refer you to paragraph 7 of your submission. You broke down the $640m, and you said 60m investment project components. The 60m IPM consists of 25m for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to be utilized for capacity building, strengthening institutions,  and support in preparation for new states. 25m in US dollar for all these one is not going to provide water. It is a transactional cost. And we are going to pay back the $25m with interest from Nigerian's money. That is not providing water, that is transactional cost. And, this is what we are concerned with, with the loan givers, World Bank and Co. As we said yesterday. They give something with their right hand and collect it back with their left hand. That is why I asked the question. I saw your statistics of the people, but what statistics do we want? Is it we are doing state dams. We are doing boreholes. We are building toilets. How many are you going to provide? Like a Quantity Surveyor who is my colleague here has just said, we need to be able to determine the cost-effectiveness, cost-efficiency. But immediately you are saying 60m, that is about 10% is already just for the transaction, for travels, when you talk of capacity building, is meetings in hotels,  giving TSAs and so on... And these are loan money. That is our concern."

Speaking further on the lack of fairness in the number of proposed benefiting states, he queried,  "...This is Nigerians' money, it is Nigerians that would pay it. Parts of the country can not benefit and the whole of Nigeria would pay, we are here representing all our constituencies, whatever is World Bank's criteria for eligibility is unacceptable to us. It should be about equity and fairness. And the 700 million is not for the whole of Nigeria, it is for 7 States and we have 36. We are going to query that, that is why we are asking. Specifically, which are the communities? Note, When you are submitting, the transaction cost is too high. We have to look at that. We can't be spending 10% of the money to do just capacity building as so on."

Senator Oloriegbe berated the ministry's overzealous attempt to act outside its province, saying that the states are capable of developing personnel capacity. 

“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?,” Sen Oloriegbe inquired.

The committee has however requested that the Minister, Engr. Suleiman Hussein Adamu should appear before it for further explanations.

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