Politics

Ex-speaker of Kaduna assembly denies approving a $350m World Bank loan for El-Rufai

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-Assembly warns ex-gov’s son against threats

Yusuf Zailani, Speaker of the 9th Kaduna State House of Assembly, has denied claims that the Assembly under his leadership approved the $350m World Bank loan obtained by Nasir El-Rufai, former governor of the state.

The current Assembly had on Tuesday set up a fact-finding committee to probe all finances, loans and contract projects awarded, as well as other financial spending and abandoned projects initiated by the immediate past government, between 2015 to 2023, under El-Rufai’s administration.

The speaker of the assembly, Yusuf Liman, inaugurated the 13-man committee during plenary on Tuesday.

The constitution of the committee followed a motion moved by the member representing the Kauru Constituency, Mugu Yusuf, asking the House to investigate all the loans obtained by the El-Rufai administration.

Governor Uba Sani, during a town hall meeting recently, lamented the huge debt inherited from his predecessor, El-Rufai, on May 29, 2023.

Sani had said the state was left with a few amounts, not enough to pay salary, adding that his administration inherited a total of $587 million, N85 billion loans, and 115 contractual liabilities from the ex-governor.

However, while defending allegations that the house under his leadership, approved the $350m World Bank loan obtained by El-Rufai, Zailani, in a video posted on X on Wednesday, by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Strategic Communications to the Speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly, Mal. Suraj Bamalli, the former Speaker insisted that he did not approve the loan.

Yusuf Zailani

“I have been waiting for this day, and the day is today. My fight was not to give approvals of loans. Some of my colleagues were around, and 6 still members of this hallowed chamber, including Isaac Auta Zankhai, the former deputy speaker. They said I should approve the loans. I said no, we need to know how many loans we have,” he said.

Recall that besides probing all finances, loans and contract projects awarded by El-rufai’s administration, the State Assembly also mandated the committee to invite notable personalities including former speakers of the 8th and 9th Assemblies, commissioners of finance, former Managing Directors of Kaduna Markets, and Commissioners of Budget and Planning, among others.

Kaduna Assembly warns el-Rufai’s son

Meanwhile, the Kaduna Assembly has warned Bello El-Rufai, son of the former governor and member of the House of Representatives against resort to threats over the move by the assembly to probe the state’s finances.

Sharing screenshots of alleged threatening messages sent to him by Bello, the Assembly Speaker, in a statement through his media aide, Mal. Suraj Bamalli, said, “In light of recent events, the Kaduna State House of Assembly wishes to address the erratic and unruly actions of Hon. Bello Elrufai, the member representing Kaduna North Federal Constituency.

“Shortly after the establishment of a committee to investigate financial dealings, loans, grants, and projects implementation from 2015-2023 in Kaduna State, Hon. Bello Elrufai took to social media with two tweets, now deleted, insinuating a call to “fight” and disrespecting the entire Legislative Arm of Government.

” Additionally, he sent insulting and subtle threat messages to the Rt. Hon Speaker of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon Yusuf Liman via WhatsApp.

“The screenshots of these tweets and messages have been widely circulated, causing concern among the citizens of Kaduna State. It is disheartening that a Federal Lawmaker, entrusted with representing the people, would resort to such behaviour attempting to obstruct the lawful functions of the State Assembly. The Kaduna State House of Assembly wants to reassure the good people of Kaduna State that it remains steadfast in its commitment to serving without fear or favor.

“The members of the Assembly took an oath to uphold the integrity of their office and ensure due diligence in their duties, regardless of any attempts at intimidation or threats.

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“Threats and intimidation from anyone, including federal lawmakers, will not deter the Kaduna House of Assembly from its pursuit of justice and accountability. The Assembly remains resolute in its mandate to provide checks and balances and uphold the rule of law in Kaduna State.

“We urge the good people of Kaduna State to remain vigilant and steadfast in their support for transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The Kaduna State House of Assembly will continue to serve the best interests of the state and its citizens.”

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