Strange N23.7tn: Uproar in Senate over “Ways and Means” expenditure request

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

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1(1), 13(1) of the Constitution and Central Bank of Nigeria Act, Section 38 and maintained that, “no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund, except in the manner approved by the National Assembly”, insisting that it would amount to an abuse of privileges for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.

Following the pandemonium that ensued, the Senate President directed that the chamber should go into a closed-door session.

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