The Senate on Wednesday has failed to pass the planned final consideration of the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means Restructuring request forwarded to the national assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2022 for expeditious consideration.
Failure of the Senate to pass the N22.7trillion Ways and Means Restructuring request by President Buhari puts Nigeria at risk of incurring additional N1.8trillion debt as warned by the President three weeks ago when he assented to N21.83trillion 2023 national budget.
Indications that the Ways and Means will be jettisoned appeared when the request was listed on the Order Paper used for plenary on Wednesday and mentioned by the Senate leader, who is the Chairman of the Special Committee set up for that purpose.
On Tuesday last week, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, declared that the Senate was ready to approve the request, provided the required details of the spending were made available by the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele.
He said if not for the Restructuring of the N22.7trillion Ways and Means request, the Senate and, by extension, the National Assembly would have adjourned plenary on Thursday last week till after the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
” We must have the necessary information to pass the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means Restructuring request as time is not on our side in the Senate now because of coming general elections.”
However, the Senator Gobir-led committee did not present any report for consideration by the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, making the Senate adjourn without approving it as earlier planned.
However, the report had the expected details from executive arm of government on how the N22.7 trillion was expended were not provided.
As President Muhammadu Buhari warned three weeks ago, Nigeria risks incurring an additional N1.8 billion with non-approval of the requested N22.7 trillion Ways and Means Restructuring by the National Assembly.
President Buhari, who gave the warning when assenting to the N21.83trillion 2023 budget, had said: ” Balance of N22.7trillion Ways and Means, has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and borrowings.
”I have no intention to fetter the National Assembly’s right to interrogate this balance’s composition, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.
”Failure to grant the securitization approval will, however, cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates, which is currently MPR plus 3% and the negotiated interest rate of 9%, and a 40year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means”.
Efforts to get some senators to react to the development proved abortive as all of them kept mum, with only one of them, who refused to be quoted, saying the Senate will still insist on having details of how the Ways and Means received from the CBN is utilized when it resumed plenary after the general elections.