By Grace Udofia
The Nigerian Senate has condemned the move by the Federal Government to borrow the sum of $200million to purchase mosquito nets.
In the 2022 budget, the Federal Ministry of Health proposed to borrow $200m under the Malaria Programme to buy mosquito nets which the Committee on Local and Foreign Loans strongly kicked against.
According to Punch, the committee’s condemnation was in response to the Ministry of Health’s submission about its intention to borrow the amount for purchase of mosquito nets for 13 vulnerable states.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mahmuda Mamman had justified the proposal before the panel.
He said, “The loan if approved by the National Assembly and accessed, will be used to medically fight malaria in the 13 orphan states which cover 208 local government Councils and 3, 536 primary health care centres.”
The submission did not go down well with Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe and other Senators present, as they descended heavily on the Permanent Secretary and the Executive Secretary, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib.
Oloriegbe wondered why N450m was budgeted for Malaria treatment in the proposed 2022 budget and yet, plans being made to borrow $200m for the same purpose.
“This is unacceptable. We should be able to put our feet down when dealing with these donor agencies or creditors as regards loans to be taken and what it should be expended on. Don’t we have local manufacturers of mosquito nets and malaria drugs in Nigeria to patronise with the loan even if approved.
“This is a clear case of money and jobs for the boys by creditors luring you for loans and railroading you on what it should be spent on.
“Washington or whatever creditor offering the loan, should stop giving us money with one hand and taking it back with another hand through railroaded spending,” he said.
Other members of the Committee like Senators Adelere Oriolowo (APC Osun West), Abba Moro (PDP Benue South) and others, also blamed the Ministry for coming up with such idea.
They maintained that the N450m already budgeted for fighting the scourge in the alleged vulnerable areas was enough.
In anger, they asked the Permanent Secretary to explain how the idea was arrived at and how it will be implemented.
In his response, the Permanent Secretary explained that the subsidiary arrangement had been made with all the states involved through required signing of agreement.
Explaining further NPHCDA boss noted that the $200m was for importation and local production of mosquito nets.
The panel however demanded the total needs of the agency to ascertain if there was need for borrowing.