Home Economy Uproar in Senate over CBN Ways, Means advances of N23.7trn to FG

Uproar in Senate over CBN Ways, Means advances of N23.7trn to FG

by Business News Report

There was some sort of disarray in Senate for several hours over how to restructure the payment of N23. 7 trillion “Ways and Means” advances the federal government secured from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) in the last 10 years. Following the action, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan forced the Senators to go into a closed door session to avoid further confusion and possible breakdown of law and order. “Ways and Means” are advances by the Central Bank to the Federal Government to enable it cater for short term or emergency finance to fund delayed government expected cash receipt of fiscal deficits.” Trouble started when the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, 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, raised a point of order, with very strong argument that President Buhari’s request was  unconstitutional and what the Senate is about to do by considering the request is unknown in Nigerian law. The Senate became tensed up 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. The President in a letter read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan during Plenary session last Wednesday,  explained that Ways and Means are advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the federal government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficit. According to him,  the ways and means balances as at 19th December 2022  is 22.7 trillion. President Buhari had stated in the letter that he has 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%. The  Senate had 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.

Lawan’s ruling annoyed Senator Apiafi and some other Senators, thereby leading  to a tense atmosphere. At this point, Senator George Sekibo, 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. In a move to kill the report, Senator Sekibo raised constitutional orders citing sections  80, 83, Section1,13(1) of the 1999 Constitution and section  38  of the CBN Act to kick against the request.

Sekibo said, “we came into this Chamber today and we were given the report of N22.7 trillion which has been spent in the past ten years. Whether it is 10 years or 5years, 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 without details for us to approve. Section 80 of the 1999 constitution as amended 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 for  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 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 have been authorised by the act of the National Assembly. Section 80 (4) 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 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 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 shows that the N22.7trillion 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.” The Senate thereafter went  into a closed door session for one hour and the request was stepped down at the end of the day for lack of details. Spirited attempt made by the Senate President to make Senators back down, proved abortive as many of them, left their seats shouting, no!, No, which hurriedly made them to go into close session for about one and half hours.

After the closed session, the Senate as separately  announced by Senator Adeola and Lawan, resolved to step down restructuring of  N22.7trillion Ways and Means. 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 .

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