The Senate has frowned at a plan by the federal government to borrow $200 million to purchase mosquito nets and other ancillary medical therapies to prevent malaria.
Members of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts faulted the proposed loan requests when the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mahmuda Mamman, informed them of the plan.
Mr Mamman told the panel that part of the federal government’s plan for the loan is to secure a $200 million facility to procure mosquito nets to prevent malaria in 13 of the 36 states.
This, he said, is due to high rate of under-five mortality in Nigeria largely caused by malaria and inaccessibility to malaria treatments by residents in 13 vulnerable states in the country. Hence, the necessity of the loan.
If approved by the National Assembly and accessed, the loan would be used to medically fight malaria in the 13 orphan states which cover 208 local government councils and 3,536 Primary Healthcare Centres, he said.
But a member of the committee, Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara) wondered why plans were being made to borrow $200 when N450 million had been budgeted for malaria treatment in the proposed 2022 Appropriation bill.
Mr Oloriegbe, who is also the chairman of the committee on health, also wondered why there are no plans to produce and patronise mosquito nets and malaria drugs in Nigeria.
“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.
“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 including Senators Adelere Oriolowo and Abba Moro also faulted the ministry’s proposal. describing it as frivolous.
The lawmakers said the N450million already budgeted for fighting malaria in the reported vulnerable areas was enough.
When asked how the idea was arrived at and how it would be implemented, Mr Mamman said a subsidiary arrangement had been made with all the states involved through the signing of the required agreement.
On his part, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, further explained that the $200 million was for importation and local production of mosquito nets.
The committee, thereafter, demanded to see the total needs of the agency to ascertain if there was a need for borrowing.
They also demanded all documents related to the $200 million loan from World Bank for malaria medicine and mosquito nets.