The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has explained why they suspended consideration of the $22.7 billion President Muhammadu Buhari loan request, urging clergy men in the country to always pray for Nigerian leaders for better leadership.
Gbajabiamila said Nigerian leaders need prayers all the time to succeed.
Speaking when he hosted Leaders of Faith Forum from the South South and Southeast in Abuja on Wednesday, Gbajabiamila also urged the clerics to avail Nigerian leaders their wisdom and knowledge, especially in the areas of politics and governance.
“I want to say that please do not forget us in your prayers. We should never cease in prayers. For those of us who are in the eye of the storm in government, we will really love that. Keep us in your prayers.
“We can have continuous engagements. This is the first, but hopefully not the last. I like the fact that you’re involved in issues of politics and governance. From time to time, you need to borrow us your wisdom and knowledge in those areas,” he said.
Responding to the position of the Leaders of Faith Forum that the Nigerian Government should completly jettison the idea of taking a foreign loan of $22.7bn at this time, Gbajabiamila said the issue is debatable and that government should be given the benefit of the doubt.
The Speaker said it was because of the agitation that the Southeast would not benefit from the loan that the House stepped down its consideration, and that he had personally spoken with Finance Minister and the Director General of the Budget Office to find a solution.
“You said there is no need for the loan at this time, but that itself is debatable. If government believes that there’s need for the loan, I think we should support that, because they know as they’re the ones that see what is needed and what is not needed.
“What I think for me is more important is the equity of the law and whether or not we’re able to distribute these things fairly considering the very nature of the structure of our country.
“I know there has been a lot of agitation about Southeast not benefiting from the loan. It is one of the reasons we haven’t considered the loan in the House. I’ve discussed with the Finance Minister and the DG Budget.
“It’s a matter that we’re looking at seriously. I’m hoping that there will be some kind of amicable resolution so that everybody will be carried along. Equity suggests that all zones must be carried along.
“With the quality of members that you have and the generality of the House, we’ll work towards a fair resolution of the issue so that it leads to something that will bring us together and unite us as a country.”
Gbajabiamila said the House was already addressing the issues of open grazing, insecurity, among others as raised by the clerics, challenging them to come up with alternatives and possible solutions to any issue that they are not at home with.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Bishop Sunday Onouha, said the visit was to discuss issues of concerns with the Speaker, saying while they applaud the Federal Government’s food security agenda, farmlands across the country are still unsafe.
They therefore urged the government to urgently address the situation and avert impending hunger for most communities who depend on staple food like cassava and rice.
The religious leaders said the issue of open grazing must stop as it generates insecurity and people are no longer safe in their farmlands. They also declared support for regional security outfits, which they said must be done in collaboration with relevant authorities.