Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, on Monday said the decision of the Federal Government to exclude the Southeast and Edo state from the $22.7bn was an “apartheid” policy.
HURIWA made the remark while insisting that the exclusion violates Section 42 of Nigeria’s constitution.
It stated that excluding certain part of the country was “provocative, unconstitutional, primitive and discriminatory” which was a fallout of dirty politics that preceded the approval of the loan request.
The 8th Senate under the leadership of Bukola Saraki had rejected the loan over lack of details.
However, the senate under Ahmed Lawan’s leadership approved the loan amid protest and uproar.
Buhari, while speaking on the loan had said it was to “ensure the prompt implementation of projects under the borrowing plan with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes, governance and financial management reforms, among others.”
However, a statement by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko said: “We are here to condemn the deliberate scheming out of over 60 million Nigerians of Igbo extraction in the proposed foreign loan shopping list of $22.7 billion prepared by President Muhammadu Buhari and approved by the senate dominated by the All Progressives Congress and also headed by a northerner in the person of Ahmed Lawan.
“The exclusion of another 5 million citizens of over 20 ethnic nationalities from Edo state stands absolutely condemnable. We believe that this policy is akin to the apartheid white minority rule that was practiced in South Africa prior to the current majority rule of the blacks. This policy of exclusion also violates section 42 of the Nigerian constitution which states as follows: “(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions. (2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth. (3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes restrictions with respect to the appointment of any person to any office under the State or as a member of the armed forces of the Federation or member of the Nigeria Police Forces or to an office in the service of a body, corporate established directly by any law in force in Nigeria.”
“The exclusion of the south east and Edo State, which is provocative, unconstitutional, primitive and discriminatory, is said to be a fallout of what has been described as the dirty politics that preceded the approval of the loan request which President Muhammadu Buhari presented twice to the National Assembly and eventually got approved by the Senator Ahmed Lawan-led ninth Senate.”
According to HURIWA, details of the loan, as approved by the Senate, showed that the South West got $200,000,000.00 while the South South, excluding Edo State, got $4,270,000,000.00. The South East which produced 15 of the 109 senators got nothing from the loan.
“And more shocking is the fact that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Clifford Ordia, which processed the loan request and recommended its approval, represents Edo Central.
“However, the North West, which produced President Buhari, got $6,372,000,000.00 just as the North East got $300,000,000.00 while the North Central got $6,531,000,000 and $5,853,900,000.00 was reserved for general expenses.
“In more specific details, the power transmission project in Lagos and Ogun states were given $200 million just as $800m was voted for the East west road in the Niger Delta.
“The coastal railway project (Calabar-Port Harcourt-Onne deep sea port segment got $3.47billion (Cross River and Rivers states.)
“Projects in the North East that were covered in the loan are the multi-sectoral crises recovery programme ($200m, north-east), North-east Nigeria integrated social protection, basic health, education, nutrition services and livelihood restoration project ($100m); and the Lake Chad Basin Commission ($13m, multinational).”
In the North West, the following projects were captured by the loan:
“Kano-Lagos railway modernization project (Kano-Ibadan segment double track, $5.53billion; and vocational training in power sector ($50m; FCT, Lagos, Ogun. Kano, Plateau, Niger, Enugu, Kaduna and Cross River).
Others are: Kaduna State economic transformation programme for results ($35m, Kaduna); National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructural Backbone Project (NICTIB) phase II ($328.1m (Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Lokoja, Kaduna, Akwanga, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina); Health System Project ($110m, Katsina); Rural water supply and sanitation ($150m; north-east, and Plateau); and development of the mining industry ($150m, nationwide).
In the North Central, these projects were covered: Staple crops processing zone support project ($100m, Kogi); Greater Abuja water supply project ($381m, FCT); Abuja mass rail transit project (phase 2) ($1.25b, FCT); Mambila hydro-electric power project ($4.8b; and Taraba integrated programme for development and adaption to climate change in the Niger Basin ($6m)
It was gathered that only 60 per cent of the loan would be available for spending as 40 per cent is to be paid to those who offered consultancy services regarding the loan.
The source disclosed that although the Federal Government was aware that the remaining 60 per cent would not be enough for the projects for which the loan was sought, it had insisted on getting it loan because it intended to seek a second loan later in the year.
“A request for the second loan would soon be sent to the National Assembly, “the source said.