There was an uproar in Senate on Wednesday over the request from President Muhammadu Buhari for restructuring of N22.7 trillion Ways and Means advances collected by the Federal Government from the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), within the last ten years.
President Buhari had in a letter read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday last week, sought for restructuring of the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means advances collected from CBN within the last ten years in addition to N1trillion to be collected as fresh domestic loan.
Buhari in the letter said Ways and Means are advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the federal government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficits.
The President in the request said: “The ways and means advances by the Central Bank of Nigeria, to the federal government has been a funding option to the federal government to cater for short term or emergency finance to fund delayed government expected cash receipt of physical deficit.
“The ways and means, balances as at 19th December 2022 is N22.7 trillion.
“I have approved the securitisation of the ways and means balances along the following terms – Amount. N23 .7 trillion, Tenure 40 years, Moratorium on principal repayment, three years, Pricing interest rate 9%.
“Your concurrence and approval is sought to allow for the implementation of same.”
The Senate in line with parliamentary procedure gave the request expeditious consideration by passing it for second reading and mandating its committee on Finance to work on it.
But trouble started when the Chairman of the Committee, Solomon Olamilekan ( APC Lagos West), was called upon to present report the report.
Senator Betty Apiafi ( PDP Rivers ), rose against it through constitutional point of order, by saying Ways and Means expenditure are not known to the Nigeria Constitution.
She was however ruled out of order by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan for allowing the report to be presented before kicking against it.
Anger from the Senators mainly from the opposition against the report was expressed when being presented with negative background noise against its presentation by Senator Olamilekan.
In a move to kill the report, Senator Thompson Sekibo rose through constitutional orders by citing sections 80, 83, Section1,13(1) of the 1999 Constitution and section 38 of the CBN Act to kick against the request.
He said: ” Section 80 of the 1999 constitution as amended states that all revenues or other monies raised or received by the Federation, not being revenue and other monies payable under this constitution or any act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the federation established for a particular purpose shall be paid into and form one consolidated revenue fund of the Federation.
“No money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund or where the issue of those monies have been authorized by an appropriation act, supplementary act or an act passed in pursuance of section 81 of the constitution
“No money shall be withdrawn from any account other than the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation unless the issue of those monies have been authorized by the Act of the National Assembly.
“Section 80 (4) states that no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund or any other fund of the Federation except by the approval of the National Assembly, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
” Section 38 of the CBN Act states ” any money collected by federal government as loan or emergency fund in form of Ways and Means Advances, must be refunded before collection of another one “
” Mr President , the relevant laws quoted, clearly show that the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means Advances already spent by federal government without informing the National Assembly was wrong and will be unfair as representatives of Nigerians to approve this request,” he said.
Spirited attempt made by the Senate President to make Senators back down, proved abortive as many of them left their seats and shouted, no ! no, which hurriedly made them to go into close session for about one and a half hours.
After the closed session, the Senate as announced by Lawan, resolved to step down restructuring of N22.7 trillion Ways and Means but approved N819.5 billion from the fresh N1 trillion being requested for.
The approved N819.5 billion is for funding for the 2022 supplementary budget.
For the others, a special committee was set up to summon the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele and heads of other relevant agencies, for details on expenditure made from the N22.7 trillion.
The Committee headed by the Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East), is to submit its report on 17th January 2023 when Senate resumes plenary from the New year recess.
The Senate later adjourned plenary for New Year recess to reconvene on January 17th, 2023.
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