Senate In Disarray Over Approval Of N23.7trn Extra-Budgetary Spending
The Senate is currently in a rowdy session over the request by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to approve the N23.7 trillion spent by the federal government without approval by the National assembly.
At the plenary on Wednesday, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, read out Buhari’s request to members of the respective chambers.
Recalled last week, the president had written to the senate, seeking approval for the “ways and means advances”.
“The ways and means advanced 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,” Buhari had said.
“The ways and means, balances as of 19th December 2022 is N22.7 trillion.”
However, The rowdiness began after Solomon Olamilekan, chairman of the finance committee, presented a report on the president’s “way and means advances” request.
“Ways and means windows are used by the government when there is a need for cash intervention,” Olamilekan said.
“It is normal. We should even commend the federal government. The sum spans over 10 years. They have agreed to forward the document to the committee on or before Friday.”
As Olamilekan continued his presentation, Betty Apiafi, senator representing Rivers west, raised a point of order stating that the request was not constitutional.
But Senate President Ahmad Lawan ruled her out of order, saying: “Let me present his report first… I’m not preventing anyone from speaking.”
His comment elicited uproar as most of the senators engaged in heated debate.
When the order finally returned to the chamber after about 10 minutes, Lawan asked Thompson Sekibo, senator representing Rivers east, to speak on the matter.
Citing a constitutional point of order, Sekibo reiterated Apiafi’s stance, explaining that the request was not in line with the constitution.
“It will be a disservice that we have spent that money on behalf of Nigerians,” the senator said.
“It will be wrong for the senate to approve this without details of how the money was spent.”
After his submission, the rowdiness resumed and Lawan — again — had to intervene. The senate president then asked Ibrahim Gobir and Philip Aduda, the majority and minority leaders, respectively, to approach the dais.
As they approached him, the situation worsened and Lawan quickly called for a closed session.
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