Rowdiness in Senate’s chamber force lawmakers to step down consideration of N23.7 trillion Ways and Means request by President Buhari for further legislative action. Senators describe request as unconstitutional
The Senate on Wednesday suspended the consideration of a request by President Muhammadu Buhari seeking its approval to restructure N23.7 trillion Ways and Means advances given to the federal government by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The decision followed a rowdy session where lawmakers who opposed the request described it as unconstitutional.
President Buhari, in a letter read to the parliament during last Wednesday’s plenary by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, noted that the advances are from the CBN to the federal government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficit.
The letter titled ‘Restructuring of Ways and Means Advances’ reads in part, “The ways and means advances by the Central Bank of Nigeria, to the federal government have 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 balance as of 19th December 2022 is 22.7 trillion naira. 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.”
Orderpaper Nigeria reported that the Red Chamber was thrown into the rowdy session shortly after Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Lagos West) laid the report for presentation and consideration in the red chamber. Senator Betty Apiafi, representing River West, raised a point of order on how the Federal Government should spend revenues.
Many lawmakers who opposed the president’s request said it was against the laws and wondered why the National Assembly was not notified when the amount was taken from the apex bank. The chaos in the chamber prompted the presiding officer to call for a closed-door session which lasted over thirty minutes.
Upon resumption from the closed-door session, Senator Adeola recommended that consideration of the request be stepped down for further legislative action while the panel provides appropriate documents. The Senate adopted Senator Olamilekan’s recommendation.