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Buhari’s N23.7trn Ways and Means causes commotion in Senate 



Senate in session

The  Senate was thrown into confusion for several hours on Wednesday,December 28th,  on how to restructure the payment of N23.7 trillion “Ways and Means” secured from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) in the last 10 years. 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, forced the Senators to go into a closed door session to avoid the issue degenerating into a physical brawl. 

“Ways and Means” are soft loans or advances by the Central Bank to the Federal Government to enable it to cater for short term or emergency finance to fund delayed government expected cash receipt of fiscal deficits.

The trouble began when the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West) came up with a report on Ways and Means 2022, as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.

Soon after the presentation by Senator Adeola, Senator Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West) raised a point of order, with an argument that President Buhari’s request was  unconstitutional and that it was unheard of  in Nigerian law for the senate to consider such. 

The Senate became tense when the President of the Senate ruled her out of order on the grounds that the report should be presented and read by the committee chairman, thereafter lawmakers can contribute to the debate.

Lawan’s ruling annoyed Senator Apiafi and some Senators, thereby leading  to a tense atmosphere at the hallowed Chamber.

At this point, Senator George Sekibo(PDP, Rivers East) raised a point of order calling on the President of the Senate to step down the consideration of the report until lawmakers have more details on what the funds were used for before it was considered. 

In a strong move to stop approval of the report without scrutiny, Senator Sekibo rose through constitutional orders by citing Sections 80 and 83 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 38 of the CBN Act to kick against the request.

Sekibo said: “We came into this chamber today (yesterday) and were given the report on N22.7 trillion, which has been spent in the past 10 years. Whether it is 10 years or five years, whatever it is, the issue is that such payment, when the loans are taken, the Senate should be informed, we should be abreast with the information that such money is going to be taken because it is being taken on behalf of the people of Nigeria and we are entrusted with the power to make laws.

“According to the constitution, we can appropriate. They brought this up without details for us to approve.

“Section 80 of the 1999 constitution as amended provides 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 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 has been authorised 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 has been authorised by the Act of the National Assembly. 

“Section 83 the National Assembly may make provision for the establishment of Federation fund for.the Federation and for authorising the President if satisfying that there had arisen an urgent unforeseen expenditure to make advances to meet the needs.

“Section 38 of the CBN Act states ‘any money collected by the federal government as loan or emergency fund in the form of Ways and Means Advances must be refunded before collection of another one.’

“Mr President, the relevant laws quoted clearly show that the N22.7tr million Ways and Means Advances already spent by the Federal Government without informing the National Assembly was wrong and it will be unfair as representatives of Nigerians to approve this request.”

The Senate, thereafter, went  into a closed-door session to consider their options. 

According to the President,  the ways and means balances as at 19th December 2022  is N22.7 trillion.

President Buhari further stated in the letter he wrote to the senate  that he has approved the securitization of the ways and means balances along the following terms: Amount, N23 .7 trillion; Tenure, 40 years; Moratorium on principal repayment, three years and Pricing interest rate 9 percent.

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