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16.08.2004 Business & Finance

Disagreement over Obasanjo's loan to Ghana

By vanguard

AKURE —AS criticism continues to trail the granting of loans to Ghana and Sao-Tome and Principe by President Olusegun Obasanjo without the approval of the National Assembly, two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Prince Adetokunbo Kayode over the weekend expressed divergent views on the controversy.

Speaking with newsmen in Akure at the dinner organised by the Ondo State branch of the NBA to round off this year's law week, Chief Fawehinmi described the President's action as illegal and unconstitutional.

However, to Prince Kayode, the President's action was commendable because “the loans were granted in the interest of Nigeria”.

President Obasanjo had written a letter to the National Assembly informing it of the granting of foreign loans to the two countries.

Chief Fawehinmi said that he was going to challenge the President's action in court for his unconstitutional manner of administring the country, adding that he had taken the National Assembly as his “pet baby to rubber stamp illegality". “It is a serious danger to the sustanance of our democratic process, when you swore to observe and uphold the provision of the constitution you must do so to the letter as well as the spirit.

“Section 164(2) of the constitution says that grants to foreigners or foreign governments and international institutions can only be made in accordance with the laid down conditions by the national Assembly.

“The conditions must be laid down by the National Assembly before any grant is made; you don`t just write to the National Assembly that you have already given the grant. He has taken the National Assembly for a ride and the National Assembly should view it as a serios misconduct”, Chief Fawehinmi declared.

However, Prince Kayode said that the President was right to have given the loans since it was in the interest of the country in order to boost its economy base.

According to him, since the loan was meant for the completion of the gas project in Ghana which would also benefit Nigeria, President Obasanjo ought not to have been crucified for the action.

Prince Kayode said that “Sao Tome and Principe is very close to Nigeria, it is in our strategic political, economic and national interest to work very closely and since the fund was required for businesses between Nigeria and the country, and these are businesses we stand to gain more, so the decision was in high national interest.

“In resapect of Ghana, the West African Gas project is very strategic to Nigeria, flaring of our gas all over the years has been creating a lot of economic loss for us and creating environmental problem, and now that government is putting in efforts for us to increase our revenue base from gas, we should do everything possible to ensure that the project gets off the ground.

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