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Senate in Rowdy Session over Buhari’s Request for Approval for Restructuring of N22.7trillion Ways and Means Advances

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There was uproar in the red on Wednesday over request from President Muhammadu Buhari for restructuring of N22.7trillion Ways and Means advances collected by the Federal Government from Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), within the last ten years.

President Buhari had in a letter read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday last week , sought for restructuring of the N22.7trillion Ways and Means advances collected from CBN within the last ten years in addition to N1trillion to be collected as fresh domestic loan.

Buhari in the letter said Ways and Means are advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the federal government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficits.

The President in the request said: ” 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.

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

” I have approved the securitization of the ways and means balances along the following terms – Amount. N23 .7 trillion, Tenure 40years, Moratorium on principal repayment, three years, Pricing interest rate 9%,.

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“Your concurrence and approval is sought to allow for the implementation of same”.

The Senate had in line with parliamentary procedure , gave the request expeditious consideration by passing it for second reading and mandating its committee on Finance to work on it.

But trouble started when Chairman of the Committee , Solomon Olamilekan ( APC Lagos West) , was called upon to present report the report.

Senator Betty Apiafi ( PDP Rivers ) , rose against it through constitutional point of order , by saying Ways and Means expenditure are not known to the Nigeria 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.

Anger of the Senators mainly from the opposition against the report was expressed when being presented with negative background noise against its presentation by Senator Olamilekan.

In a move to kill the report , Senator Thompson Sekibo rose through constitutional orders by citing sections 80, 83, Section1,13(1) of the 1999 Constitution and section 38 of the CBN Act to kick against the request.

He said: ” Section 80 of the 1999 constitution as amended states that all revenues or other monies raised or received by the Federation, not being revenue and other monies payable under this constitution or any act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the federation established for a particular purpose shall be paid into and for and form one consolidated revenue fund of the Federation.

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“No money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund or where the issue of those monies have been authorized by an appropriation act, supplementary act or an act passed in pursuance of section 81 of the constitution.

“No money shall be withdrawn from any account other than the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation unless the issue of those monies have been authorized by the Act of the National Assembly.

“Section 80 (4) states that no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund or any other fund of the Federation except by the approval of the National Assembly, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.

” Section 38 of the CBN Act states ” any money collected by federal government as loan or emergency fund in form of Ways and Means Advances , must be refunded before collection of another one “.

” Mr President, the relevant laws quoted , clearly shows that the N22.7triillion Ways and Means Advances already spent by federal government without informing the National Assembly was wrong and will be unfair as representatives of Nigerians to approve this request “, he said.

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Spirited attempt made by the Senate President to make Senators back down, proved abortive as many of them , left their seats and shouting , no ! , no , which hurriedly made then to go into close session for about one and half hours.

After the closed session , the Senate as announced by Lawan, resolved to step down restructuring of N22.7trillion Ways and Means but approved N819.5billion from the fresh N1trillion being requested for.

The approved N819.5billion is for funding for 2022 supplementary budget.

For the others , a special committee was set up to summon the Minister of Finance , Zainab Ahmed , CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele and heads of other relevant agencies, for details on expenditure made from the N22.7triillion.

The Committee headed by the Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East), is to submit its report on 17th January , 2023 when Senate resumes plenary from the New year recess.

The Senate later adjourned plenary for New Year recess to reconvene on January 17th, 2023.

Business and Economy

Nigerian Minister laments low investment in Infrastructure

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By Iyojo Ameh

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu on Friday said the country has not invested enough in infrastructural development.

According to him, several problems been encountered recently by Nigerian are as direct results of under- investment in several multi- dimension infrastructure.

The minister spoke at the National Assembly during an interactive session with the Senate committee on Appropriation under the chairmanship of Senator Olamilekan Adeola.

The minister was invited to provide insight into the N6.2 trillion supplementary appropriation approval for the 2024 budget by the National Assembly as requested by President Bola Tinubu.

Bagudu commended President Tinubu for the political will yo confront the infrastructure deficit by seeking the N3.2 trillion to fund the projects which include the Lagos – Calabar coastal highway, the Sokoto – Badagry highway and the Trans- Sahara highway.

He commended the President for his confidence that the projects when completed will increase economic activities and shore up the nation’s revenue base.

He added that the projects will encourage massive transformation apart from strengthening economic realities.

The minister while trying to douse the agitation of members of the committee on the fate of other deplorable roads and uncompleted roads projects in their various constituents said the federal government has not abandoned any of the ongoing projects.

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Bagudu categorically stated that the government is not giving priority attention to the innovative projects at the expense of other road projects.

He assured that the Federal Executive Council will continue to consider and give financial approval to other roads as funds are available.

The minister though did not give a detailed statement of the supplementary approval, gave a sectoral overview of both the N3.2 trillion of the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Projects and the N3 trillion increase in the recurrent component of the budget.

Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Senator Adeola the government has full capacity to finance the 2024 budget.

He , however implore the minister to make available to the committee a full detail and breakdown of the N6.2 trillion approval as soon as possible.

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Business and Economy

Economy : CBN announces indices on growth and stability …As Senate interfaces with the CBN Gov

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By Iyojo Ameh

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja , rolled out indices , signaling improved growth and stability of the Nation’s economy.

This is as the apex bank through its Governor , Olayemi Cardoso , assured Nigerians of better days ahead .

Rolling out the growth and economic stability indices during statutory engagement with the Senate Committee on Banking , Insurance and other Financial Institutions , the CBN Governor said : ” The
spread between official and BDC rates has narrowed significantly from N162.62 in January to N47.22 in June 2024, indicating successful price discovery, increased market efficiency, and reduced arbitrage opportunities.

“The stock of external reserves increased to US$36.89 billion as of July 16, 2024, compared with US$33.22 billion at end-December 2023, driven largely by receipts from crude oil related taxes and third-party receipts.

” In Q1 2024, we maintained a current account surplus and saw improvements in our trade balance.

“Our external reserves level as at end-June 2024 can finance over 11 months of import of goods and services, or 14 months of goods only. This is significantly higher than the prescribed international benchmark of 3.0 months, indicating a strong buffer against external shocks.

“The banking sector remains robust and diverse, comprising twenty-six commercial banks, six merchant banks, and four non-interest banks. Key indicators such as capital adequacy, liquidity, and non-performing loan ratios all showed impressive improvements, underscoring the sector’s growing stability and resilience.

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“The equity market has shown impressive performance, with the All-Share Index rising by 33.81 per cent and market capitalization expanding by 38.33 per cent from December 2023 to June 2024, reflecting growing investors’ confidence.

“While we are encouraged by these positive trends, the CBN remains vigilant and committed to implementing policies that support sustainable growth in our financial markets, while maintaining overall economic stability”

He added by assuring the committee members , that required measures and strategies , have been mapped out to confront emerging challenges .

“To combat inflation, we have implemented a comprehensive set of monetary policy measures. These include raising the policy rate by 750 basis points to 26.25 percent, increasing Cash Reserve Ratios, normalizing Open Market Operations as our primary liquidity management tool, and adopting Inflation Targeting as our new monetary policy framework.

“In the area of banking supervision, the CBN has taken decisive actions to ensure the safety, soundness, and resilience of the banking industry.

” Key measures include intervention in three banks, revocation of Heritage Bank’s license, increasing minimum capital requirements, and enhancing AML/CFT supervision.

” We also introduced new frameworks for Cash Reserve Requirements and cybersecurity and prohibited the use of foreign currency collaterals for local currency loans.

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“We are in the process of reviewing the Bank’s micro and macroprudential guidelines to reinforce the resilience of financial institutions in Nigeria to withstand tightened conditions, thus creating a secure and attractive investment climate.

“We have signaled our plans to re-capitalize deposit money banks in Nigeria to improve capital inadequacy and their capacity to grow the economy.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a more stable, resilient, and efficient financial system that can better serve the Nigerian economy, while adhering to international best practices”, he said .

Earlier in his opening remarks , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru said the overall purpose of the interaction , ” is to update the commiittee on efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the Bank with respect to monetary policy”

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General News

I’m not a power manipulator —senator Bamidele

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The Senator leader senator Opeyemi Bamidele has dispelled the campaign of calumny against him in some social media not the Citypost and office of the Leader of the Senate,

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele in a statement from his media directorate says some individuals, either misconstrued the statutory role of the Majority Leader in a democracy or willfully distorted established legislative rules that charged the Majority Leader with the duty of leading the business of the Parliament, including government bills.

The statement reads in parts:

“Senator Bamidele is never a power manipulator, enemy of the people and an obstacle to national peace, as some reactionaries or agents of regressive forces have been peddling in the social media. As a political actor who enjoys vast public trust, he will never or can never act against the core and strategic interests of Nigeria and Nigerians at any level”

“Under Rule 23, the Senate Standing Orders, 2023 (as amended) specifically provides for the Office of the Leader of the Senate, who shall be a Senator duly nominated from the political party with the highest number of seats in the Senate. This is the global best practice, which is not peculiar to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also to all democracies worldwide”

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“The rule further establishes that the Leader of the Senate shall (a) lead all government bills; (b) lead the business of the Senate; (c) manage the legislative schedule of the Senate; (d) liaise with Committee Chairmen and other functionaries of the Senate and (e) perform such duties as the President may assign to him.

Consistent with the Senate Standing Orders, 2023 (as amended), therefore, Senator Bamidele is under obligation to lead all government bills, a role he has been playing creditably. By implication, he is responsible for sponsoring and promoting government bills originating from the Executive Arm or its ministries, departments and agencies”

“In this light, Senator Bamidele has been able to manage the floor debate on government bills successfully; build consensus across political divides; mobilise support for government bills within the Senate and lead negotiations to gain broader support. Since his assumption of office on July 4, 2023, Senator Bamidele has equally deployed strategies in navigating the complex legislative procedures to advance government bills and coordinated closely with the Executive Arm to ensure that government bills reflect the administration’s policies and priorities”

“Like other principal officers of the Senate, the role of the Leader of the Senate is provided for in the Senate Standing Orders, 2023 (as amended). In Nigeria, particularly, this role has been pivotal in advancing the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR through the National Assembly. And he has played the role well through a combination of strategic planning, negotiation and leadership skills”

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