The Senate on Wednesday rejected the request by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.), to restructure the N22.7tn Ways and Means advances collected by the Federal Government from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The lawmakers rejected the request after an uproar in the Senate over the issue. Buhari had in a letter read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday last week sought for restructuring of the N22.7tn ways and means advances collected from CBN within the last ten years in addition to N1tn to be collected as fresh domestic loan.
In the letter, he said ways and means were advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the Federal Government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficits.
However, trouble started when the chairman of the committee, Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West), was called upon to present a report on it.
Some members of the upper legislative chamber were quick to raise objections as the Senate leadership attempted to get the report of its finance committee, which had recommended that the president’s request be granted.
Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers), was the first to rise against it through the constitutional point of order, saying ways and means of expenditure are not known to the Nigerian constitution. She was, however, ruled out of order by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, for allowing the report to be presented before kicking against it.
Some of the senators expressed their opposition to the report by grumbling while it was being presented by Senator Adeola. Senator George Thompson Sekibo, (APC, Rivers State) raised a constitutional point of order to explain why the ‘ways and means’ advances were illegal and unconstitutional.
He informed the Senate that the action of the President was also in breach of the CBN Act, the Senate standing rules, just as it attacked the privileges of the Senate and National Assembly.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, attempted severally to get the Senate to accede to the president’s request but it failed because of the depth of information and argument adduced by Sekibo.
Senator Sekibo cited sections 80, 83, Section1,13(1) of the 1999 Constitution, and section 38 of the CBN Act while kicking against the request.