The Senate has approved the N850 billion loan requested by President Muhammadu Buhari to fund some projects in the 2020 budget.
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The request was approved by lawmakers at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday, five weeks after the upper chamber went on recess following the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the subsequent lockdown imposed on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to the request, which was contained in a letter read by Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate President, President Buhari said the Federal Government seeks to raise the loan from the domestic capital market.
The President said the approval of the loan would ensure availability of funds to adequately finance projects in the budget.
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After the letter was read, the lawmakers gave accelerated approval to the President’s request to raise the loan.
They also asked the Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriation to liaise with Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, to get more details on the loan request.
At resumption for the first time in five weeks, the senators wore face masks and also maintained social distancing by keeping two seats between one another.
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Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, the Senate Leader, moved a motion to suspend Order 11 to enable senators to speak from seats not belonging to them.
He explained that this was to enable the lawmaker to comply with social distancing, which was part of the measures to check the spread of COVID-19.
In his remarks, Senator Lawan welcomed his colleagues and gave the reason for the resumption of plenary despite the rising cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
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The Senate President explained that the decision was to help sustain solutions to the health crisis and ensure the crisis does not create more problems for the government and its people.
He stated that the pandemic has affected the 2020 budget and the National Assembly has a responsibility to work with the Executive to address the problem.