Lawyers drawn from the Ikeja and Ikorodu branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos State and other lawyers yesterday condemned Fayose’s action, describing it as mere irritant and inconsequential.
President Buhari had last week paid a state visit to the People’s Republic of China with some state governors, the Central Bank governor and some ministers.
The president had concluded negotiations for the loan and a currency swap deal with the Chinese authorities as part of efforts to revive the Nigerian economy in the face of dwindling oil revenues.
On April 12, Fayose had reportedly jetted out to China while Buhari was there, urging the Chinese authorities to refuse the facility being requested by the Nigerian Government.
He said “all Nigerians, irrespective of their political and religious affiliations were against any applications for new foreign loans.” This, he said, was on the grounds that servicing current debt burden already gulps over 25 per cent of the country’s annual budget.
Reacting to Fayose’s letter, a former Chairman of Ikeja Branch of NBA, Mr Onyekachi Ubani, described the letter as of no consequence, since negotiations had already been concluded.
“The letter by Fayose is similar to a situation of bringing a motion for a court injunction for a completed act. This letter is a mere irritation especially coming from a sitting governor; I will urge Nigerians and especially journalists to regard his letter as nothing, but a mere irritation”.
“Negotiations are already concluded and the Chinese government are willing to release funds to Nigeria.
“Although, it is very disheartening that such a letter is coming from one of our governors, but I think it serves no purpose,” he told NAN.
Ubani, urged Nigerians to resist any act capable of disrupting the smooth running of government.
In the same vein, the Ikeja Branch Chairman of NBA, Mr Yinka Farobi, described the letter as “over stepping of one’s boundaries. “Fayose was elected as a state governor and not as the president of Nigeria.
His letter is clearly out of the purview of his powers and I seriously condemn it,” he said. Farobi also urged Nigerians to be supportive of moves aimed at positioning Nigeria for growth. Again, the Ikorodu NBA Branch Chairman, Mr Dotun Adetunji, described the letter as a show of rascality.
He noted that although “there is a provision for immunity for a sitting governor, there must also be a limit on the activities of a leader.”
In his words: “There are 36 states in the federation and out of these states, only one governor has courage to write to a foreign authority, urging it to refuse funds to its Federal Government. “To my mind, such action is really reprehensible and should be discouraged.
“There is no problem with being in opposition, but If you want to be in opposition, you conduct such opposition in a reasonable manner,” he also told NAN.
Adetunji urged Nigerians to show support for the incumbent government in a bid to promote development, saying:”We must be careful as Nigerians for whatever we do today will be recorded as our history tomorrow.”
Mr Spurgeon Ataene, a lawyer, said:“If the loan being sought by the Federal Government is for the purpose of revamping the battered economy, then we should not have a problem with that.
“The only thing we should demand from the government is that the loan should be used for the purpose for which it is obtained in the first place.
“To that extent, all Nigerians must be watchdogs and at all times demand that the benefit of the 2 billion dollar loan must trickle down to the masses.
Another lawyer, Mr Ola Ogunbiyi, said Fayose’s action fell short of the status of his exalted office.
“Fayose is a `security risk’ working against national interest, I think he has too much freedom and should be cautioned all because we are in a democratic rule.
“What he said was wrong, we all know the loan is for our economic growth, for him to have written a letter to another country is wrong.
“The picture he tried to paint is that there is no unity, we have no united front by going to counter the action of the president.
“We all know the President is trying to pave way for the citizenry to have a good business relationship with other countries, but we can see Fayose blackmailing not only the government but the nation as a whole.”