Tense debate in Senate over President Buhari’s loan request of N23.7 trillion

The suggestion by President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure Ways and Means Advances to the tune of N23.7 trillion caused a heated debate in the Senate.

At the plenary on Wednesday, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, read out Buhari’s appeal to members of the respective houses.

In the request titled, ‘Restructuring of Ways and Means Advances,’ the President wrote, “The Ways and Means Advance by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the Federal Government has been a funding option to the Federal Government to cater for short-term or emergency finance to fund delayed government expected cash receipt of fiscal deficit.

“The Ways and Means balance as of 19th December 2022, is N23,719,703,774,306.90.

“I have approved the securitisation of the Ways and Means balances along the following terms: amount, N23.7tn; tenure, 40 years; moratorium on principal repayment, three years; pricing interest rate, nine percent.”

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, was submitting the committee’s findings on the Ways and Means when drama broke out in the plenary.

Sen. Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West) immediately objected to Senator Adeola’s presentation, arguing that President Buhari’s request was illegal and that the Senate had no authority to even examine the request under Nigerian law.

It caused tension in the Senate when the President ruled her out of order, saying that the report should be delivered and read by the committee chairman before any members could weigh in.

As a result of Lawan’s verdict, Senator Apiafi and a few of his fellow Senators were agitated, creating an uncomfortable environment in the sacred Chamber.

Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East) then made a point of order, asking the President of the Senate to delay further consideration of the report until further information about the expenditures in question is made available to senators.

Thereafter, the Senate entered a closed session.

You may remember that last week, President Buhari wrote to the Senate asking for permission to restructure the N23.7 trillion in Ways and Means advances that the Central Bank of Nigeria had issued to the federal government.

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