Few days to the governorship election in Kogi State – November 16 – the Senate on Wednesday approved the N10bn loan refund for Kogi State government.
However, this did not go down well with the opposition senators in the House as they put up a stiff resistance.
No sooner had the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans, Senator Clifford Ordia, laid the report of his panel on the issue at plenary than the Senate President called for the debate on it immediately.
Attempts by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, to stop the process because it was not indicated in the order paper, was frustrated by Lawan, who insisted that the arrangement was in order.
Ordia, who read the report of his committee said necessary findings conducted by his panel showed that due process was followed by the Kogi State government in executing Federal Government projects.
He also said the Federal Government agencies in charge of the loan refund had approved the payment.
Senator Jibrin Barau, who spoke immediately after the presentation of the bill, asked his colleagues to approve it.
But Abaribe, in his contribution, said he agreed with Barau that states that had done the job of the Federal Government should be paid.
He, however, said that the approval appeared too hasty.
Abaribe said since the Kogi Governorship elections would hold on Saturday, the approval should be delayed for one week.
He said: “This is not the right time to approve such loan refund. Exigency of the time suggest that we should delay for one week so that the money would not be used for something else.”
Lawan disagreed with Abaribe and said there was no time that the red chamber cannot approve the payment of the money.
Lawan subjected the matter to a voice vote and ruled in favour of those who supported its approval despite protests from lawmakers who were raising points of order.
One of the protesters, Senator Uche Ekwunife, wondered why the Senate President refused to take her point of order before ruling on the issue.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on penultimate Tuesday, sent a letter to the Senate, seeking its approval for the payment of N10bn to Kogi State.
Buhari, in the letter, addressed to Senate President, said the money would be used by the state government to settle local debts it incurred as a result of the projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
Buhari said his request was based on the resolution passed by the 8th Senate