By Demola Atobaba in Ado-Ekiti
The Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has written a letter to President Xi Jingpin of China in respect of an earlier letter by Governor Ayodele Fayose urging the Chinese government to decline request of financial assistance from Nigeria.
In the letter, a copy of which was made available to WESTERN POST, Gbajabiamila said Fayose’s claim that he was speaking on behalf of the Nigerian people was an illusion. He described Fayose’s reference to Nigeria as a “project”, in which he is a stakeholder, as a lowering of the country’s status.
Gbajabiamila, who said he would not have responded to the governor’s letter but for his responsibility of driving all government business and policies in the House, explained that he wrote to the Chinese leader to set the records straight.
“…I am sure the letter written to you by the governor will probably receive little (if any) attention from your high office, assuming it even gets to you.
“Mr. President, Nigeria as you well know is not a project as erroneously described by the governor, but a nation like all others in the comity of nations.
“It is also a federal republic operating under the principles of administrative and fiscal federalism,” wrote the House Leader.
“The duties and responsibilities of a governor are clearly spelt out in the Nigerian Constitution and they do not include negotiating loans on behalf of the country nor do they extend to foreign affairs or economic diplomacy,” the letter stated.
The House Leader added that the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution contains the oath of office taken by a state governor on assumption of office and unambiguously states: “…That I will exercise the authority vested in me as Governor so as not to impede or prejudice the authority lawfully vested in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“The letters of this schedule, added Gbajabiamila, brings into sharp focus the fact that Fayose, by his letter to the Chinese government, has gone beyond his constitutional mandate and qualifies him to be described as “as a meddlesome interloper”.
The House Leader informed the Chinese leader that Fayose has a skimpy understanding of the way budgeting works at the federal level.
Nigeria, the House Leader said, has a three- year budget rolling plan captured under a Medium Term Expenditure Framework. “The MTEF 2016- 2018 has a borrowing component in which the legislature approved for the President to incur both domestic and foreign loans for the purposes of infrastructural development and deficit financing.
“This MTEF was passed unanimously by the National Assembly, including the six House members and three senators from Ekiti, the governor’s state.
“I am therefore dismayed, as are many members of the National Assembly, that the governor would claim that the loan sought from your government did not have parliamentary imprimatur.
“It is also a fallacy that the country’s debt is being financed with 25 percent of the Federal Governments annual budget, as there is something in economic and legislative borrowing parlance called nominal debt service where a portion of borrowed monies in this case about 1.3 trillion stays within the country’s financial system.
“Such are the intricacies of national debts, aids and loans,” he added.
Gbajabiamila said he was surprised that the Fayose referred to a $2 billion dollar loan instead of $6 billion dollar investment package, an indication, he said, of Fayose’s insufficient knowledge of the transaction between China and Nigeria.
According to the House Leader, transacting business with China was a strategic and economic decision on the part of the Nigerian Government and offers mutual benefit to the two countries.
“Such symbiotic relationships are the kind of relationships for responsible governments embrace.
” The people of Nigeria overwhelmingly elected President Muhammed Buhari to make such strategic decisions for them and on their behalf not any state governor,” said Gbajabiamila, who described Fayose’s letter as a new low in opposition politics.
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