Disorder in senate over Buhari’s request to approve N23.7trn extra-budgetary spending


President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for N23.7 trillion ‘Ways and Means’ request for approval have sparked an uproar in Senate on Wednesday.


The uproar which forced the red chambers into a close door session started when Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance presented the Committee report on “Approval of Ways and Means”, a request sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari.


Raising a point of Order, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume drew the attention of the Senate to the report, saying Senators could not peruse through the 24-page report within a short time as copies were distributed to them while in the chamber.


Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, however, insisted that the debate should go ahead, appealing that Senators listen to the submission by the Committee Chairman from where they could pick up issues.


Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan laid the report before the Chambers and explained that the amount has been spent by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on behalf of Nigerians, hence, approval should be given by the Senate in line with the statutory provisions, than Senator Betty Appiafi stood to oppose the report.


Senator Betty Apiafi representing Rivers West Senatorial district raised the alarm, saying that something was wrong and the Senate must not go ahead to approve the fund, noting that the expenditure was not in line with certain provisions of the constitution.


She said: “Mr President, distinguished colleagues, I am raising my point of order from the Constitutional perspective and to remind us that all expenditure of government must be in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.”

Senator Smart Adeyemi representing Kogi West Senatorial district, citing various sections of the Senate rules supported the position of the Committee Chairman and asked that the debate should continue.


Infuriated by Smart’s submission, Senator George Thompson Sekibo through a point of Order referred to Sections, 80, 83, and 84 of Senature rules and Sections 1(1), 13(1) of the Constitution and Central Bank of Nigeria Act, Section 38 and maintained that, “no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund, except in the manner approved by the National Assembly”, insisting that it would amount to an abuse of privileges for lawmakers to approve the sum of N23.7 trillion without knowing the details.


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 dias.


As they approached him, the situation worsened and Lawan quickly called for a closed session.


Last week, the president had written to the senate, seeking approval for the “ways and means advances”.


“The ways and means advances 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 physical deficit,” Buhari had said.


“The ways and means, balances as at 19th December 2022 is N22.7 trillion.”

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