…forced into an Executive Session to avoid fisticuffs
By Henry Umoru
THE Senate, for several hours on Wednesday, was thrown into disarray over how to restructure the payment of N23.7 trillion “Ways and Means” secured from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) in the last 10 years.
Following the action, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, forced the Senators to go into a closed door session to avoid fisticuffs.
“Ways and Means” are soft loans or 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.
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Trouble started when the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West) 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 (PDP, Rivers West) raised a point of order, with an argument that President Buhari’s request was unconstitutional and what the Senate was about to do by considering the request is unknown in Nigerian law.
The Senate became tensed 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.
Lawan’s ruling annoyed Senator Apiafi and some Senators, thereby leading to a tense atmosphere at the hallowed Chamber.
At this point, Senator George Sekibo(PDP, Rivers East) 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.
The Senate, thereafter, went into a closed-door session .
Recall that President Buhari had, last week, 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 Senate President 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 N22.7 trillion.
President Buhari further stated in the letter that he has approved the securitization of the ways and means balances along the following terms: Amount, N23 .7 trillion; Tenure, 40 years; Moratorium on principal repayment, three years and Pricing interest rate 9% .
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