By: Alifa Daniel

•  Senate rejects Obasanjo’s graft charges

APPARENTLY disturbed by the falling revenue and the need to develop infrastructure nationwide, jump-start the economy and create jobs, President Goodluck Jonathan has sent a proposal to the National Assembly seeking approval to borrow the sum of $4.427 billion.
Another plea that he sent to the lawmakers for quick passage of the anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering amendment bills was tacitly ignored by senators who merely read his letter on the issues without taking a stance.
The President feared that the country could suffer international backlash if the two bills were not passed by the lawmakers within this week of calling off their recess. The senators returned from their two months recess yesterday.
The National Assembly already approved $915 million borrowing in the 2010 Appropriation, according to the President, but he now needs the extra money to “jump-start the engine of economic growth and improve the living standards of the citizens.”
Jonathan’s seven-paragraph letter entitled: “Re: Request for approval of the 2010 external borrowing plan,” was read by Senate President David Mark.
However, in a tacit backhand at former President Olusegun Obasanjo who last week said the cost of maintaining legislators was draining the national purse, the Senate said yesterday that those commenting on constituency projects of federal lawmakers were ignorant of the true situation.
With his voice rising and quaking, Senate spokesman, Ayogu Eze, who had come to brief journalists on the passage of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) N87.72 billion budget, without prompting, decided to comment on the matter.
His words: “We didn’t influence the choice of contractors, we don’t influence the choice of projects… people view from the position of ignorance that monies have been given to us… all we want to be sure is to monitor that the projects are executed. So, I want to use this as an opportunity to react to some of the misinformation that has gone on in the press. It is not even just now that it has started. We have been explaining it but every time we do, people come up with uninformed and misinformed positions.”
Asked if he was saying that the former president was ignorant, he retorted: “I am not speaking specifically about any individual but nobody is above ignorance. Ignorance means you don’t have facts. When you are ignorant of a situation, you don’t have facts, and it does not respect position and it does not respect age. There are a lot of issues that I am ignorant about; it is not derogatory.”
He declined to speak on the allegation that Obasanjo said the National Assembly pads the budget until he had a full transcript of the latter’s comments on the matter.
Analysts put the amount spent on the 469 lawmakers so far this year at over N60 billion.

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