Senate drops passage of N22.7trn Ways and Means over lack of breakdown

•Nigeria risks additional N1.8trn debt

THE Senate yesterday jettisoned planned final consideration and passage of the N22.7trillion Ways and Means restructuring request forwarded to it and the House of Representatives by President Muhammadu Buhari last December for expeditious consideration.

The payment of N23.7 trillion “Ways and Means” was secured from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in the last 10 years.

Refusal of the Senate to pass the request by President Buhari has succeeded in placing Nigeria at risk of incurring additional N1.8trillion debt, as warned by the President three weeks ago when he assented to N21.83trillion 2023 budget.

At the commencement of yesterday’s plenary, there were strong indications that the lawmakers would throw out the request.

This is against the backdrop that consideration of the request was neither listed on the Order Paper used nor mentioned by the Senate leader who is Chairman of the Special Committee set up for that purpose.

It was gathered that senators have vowed to kick against the passage of the CBN loan because they want the breakdown on how the money was spent and for what purpose.

It would be recalled that the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had penultimate Tuesday, declared that the Senate was ready to approve the request, provided required details of the spendings were made available by the Finance Minister , Zainab Ahmed, and governor of the Central Bank , Godwin Emefiele.

The Senate and the House of Representatives would have adjourned plenary last Thursday till after the presidential and National Assembly elections but for restructuring of the N22.7trillion Ways and Means request ,

Lawan had said last week: “We must have necessary information for passage of the N22.7trillion Ways and Means restructuring request as time is not on our side in the Senate now, in view of coming general elections.

“If there is need for the Senate to sit up to Friday ( last week) for thorough consideration and passage of the request, it will be done but the affected officials from the executive must also expedite action on provision of required information as regards documents authorising approval and disbursement of the monies totalling N22.7trillion.”

Till the end of yesterday’s sitting, Senator Gobir-led committee did not present any report for consideration by the Senate, making the Upper Chamber to adjourn without approving it as earlier planned.

It was gathered that the expected details from the executive arm of government on how the N22.7trillion was expended within 10 years were not provided.

President Muhammadu Buhari had warned three weeks ago that Nigeria risks incurring additional N1.8billion with non-approval of his request by the National Assembly.

Buhari, who gave the warning when assenting to the N21.83trillion 2023 budget, had said: “Balance of N22.7trillion Ways and Means, has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.

”I have no intention to question the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

”Failure to grant the securitization approval will however cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus 3 per cent and the negotiated interest rate of 9per cent and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.”

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday asked the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, to investigate the sudden disappearance of Raymond Gaadi, the Deputy Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, who was to assume office at the Bayelsa State command but got missing upon arrival.

The Senate also urged the commandant of the NSCDC to direct an internal investigation into the matter.

Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion by Senator Emmanuel Orker -Jev, PDP, Benue who raised the alarm on the disappearance of Raymond Gaadi, the Deputy Commandant who was posted from Enugu to Bayelsa state to resume but never assumed office

According to him, the Deputy Commandant had raised alarm that the officer he was meant to take over from was not only resisting to handover, but was threatening him, adding that two days after the Deputy Commandant raised the alarm over threat to his his life, he went missing.

Senator Jev lamented that the authority of NSCDC has displayed little or no concern over the matter since 29th October, 2022






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