Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly with his retinue of aides, protesting against President Jonathan’s alleged attempt to halt a $600m loan facility the state had with the World Bank.
He was also joined by several members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in the protest.
The Lagos State governor dragged President Goodluck Jonathan before the House of Representatives on Loans, Aids and Debts.
Fashola told the lawmakers that the decision of the Federal government to halt a running loan facility, particularly when the loan had been factored into the 2013 budget proposal of the state, would likely heighten the suffering of about 20 million people in Lagos.
According to Fashola, the sudden refusal to guarantee the loan could frustrate the plans of state to deploy the borrowed funds to boost its infrastructure development plans.
“We have a commitment with the World Bank for a loan of $600 million offered to Lagos. It is supposed to be in three tranches and the first tranche was paid in 2011. We were expecting the payment of the second tranche when we got the shocking information that the loan facility had been stopped.
“As I speak, we have not received any official communication from the Federal Ministry of Finance about their concerns. I know that through the telephone communication I had with the Minister of Finance, she had told me that she could not accommodate Lagos State in the 2013 borrowing plan. My plea is for the second tranche to be included in the 2013 borrowing plan and the third included in the 2014 borrowing plans,” he said.
“Whatever the reasons are, for me, development and fairness and consistency are more paramount. And the interests of those people are more paramount, really. Because the roads have no political colour. The water that we have to provide has no political colour and security is politically-blind.”
Fashola told the committee that the stoppage of the loan had jeopardized his state’s 2013 and 2014 budgets and that road, water and other development projects were bound to suffer. Fashola expressed disappointment that the Federal Government would seek to frustrate a measure aimed at improving the lot of the citizens, moreso when his state had “ diligently pursued fiscal disciplines and prudence on the basis of which the World Bank” released the first tranche of $200 million.