The Senate, on Wednesday, stepped down the restructuring of the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means request of President Muhammadu Buhari until more documents were presented to the Senate for further legislative action.
The Upper Chamber, however, approved that N819 billion be excised from N1 trillion ways and means to fund the 2022 supplementary budget where the Ministry of Agriculture is to get N69 billion; Ministry of Water Resources, N15.5 billion; the Federal Capital Territory, N30 billion; and Ministry of Works and Housing, N704 billion.
Before stepping down the request during plenary, it had earlier caused raised voices in the Senate.
Trouble started when the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola brought before the Senate a report of the committee which worked on the President’s request.
Another lawmaker, Senator Betty Apiafi raised a point of order, arguing that Buhari’s request was unconstitutional and what the Senate was purportedly about to do by considering the request was unknown to the law.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan ruled that she was out of order on the grounds that the report should be presented and read by the committee chairman and that thereafter lawmakers can contribute to the debate.
But the Senate President’s ruling annoyed Apiafi and some lawmakers, leading to a tense atmosphere in the chamber.
In response, Senator George Sekibo raised a point of order calling on the Senate President to step down the consideration of the report until lawmakers had more details on what the funds were used for.
The Senate afterwards went into a closed door session.
Buhari had written to the Senate, requesting the approval of restructuring of N23.7 trillion Ways and Means advances given to the Federal Government by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The President, in a letter read by Lawan during plenary session last Wednesday, explained that Ways and Means were advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Federal Government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficit.
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He said the ways and means balances as at December 19th is N22.7 trillion.
Buhari further stated in the letter that he had 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 percent.