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One week after approving controversial N22.7trillion ‘Ways and Means,’ Buhari back to Senate with $800million loan request

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Exactly one week after it approved a whopping N22.7trillion ways and means loan, borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the Senate on Wednesday, this time seeking for approval of a fresh $800million loan.

A lot of dusts had been raised by stakeholders, who carpeted the ease with which the President’s request sailed through the Red Chambers of the National Assembly, with many analyst, calling it an illegal act for the lawmakers to give official seal to the indiscriminate Ways and Means, which allows the government to borrow from the apex bank if it needs short-term or emergency finance to fund delayed government expected cash receipts of fiscal deficits, despite a provision in the law that put a ceiling to it.

Regardless, the President, who is currently in the UK attending to his teeth, in a letter read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan at plenary, said the loan, which would be sourced through the World Bank, would be utilised to scale up the National Social Safety Net Programme.

The Senate, had last year thrown out the President’s request to securitise the loan when the proposal was brought by the President, citing a lack of details, but a further pressure was mounted when it was again re-presented, with Buhari appealing to the lawmakers to to reconsider its stand, as failure to grant the approval would cost the government about N1.8tn in additional interest in 2023.

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The Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir, who led the Senate in the debate for the approval of the Ways and Means on Wednesday, explained that part of the money was given as loans to states.

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Gobir added that the Special Committee set up by the Red Chamber to scrutinise the fiscal document, put up the report after ‘critical analysis and review of submissions made by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning; and the CBN

The Senate Leader said the panel discovered that the Ways and Means balance was initially N19. 3tn (N19.326,745,239,660.20) as of June 30, 2022 but later grew to N22.7tn (N22,719,704,774,306.90 ) as of December 19, 2022 as a result of financial obligations to ongoing capital projects and additional expenditures which includes domestic debt service gaps and interest rate.

He noted that the Senate on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, approved the sum of N819,536,937,813 from the N1tn additional request made by the president leaving an outstanding balance of N180.4bn being the accrued interest on the sum.

Gobir further stated that the House of Representatives had earlier approved the additional N1tn Ways and Means Advances requested by the President to enable the smooth implementation of the supplementary budget.

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Gobir said, “Part of the Ways and Means monies were given to State Governments as loans to augment budgetary shortfall in their various States.

“Most of the requests for funds for an increase in Ways and Means were made to Mr President on the need to finance the budget due to revenue shortfall. Such requests were either made by the Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning or the Central Bank Governor.

“The Federal Government as a result of revenue shortfalls occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices, relied heavily on the Ways and Means to finance its budget deficit to keep the country working for the people.”

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The Senate leader added, “The monies received by the Federal Government were actually used for funding critical projects across the country.

“That due to the serious shortfall in Government Revenue, the Federal Government in order for the economy not to collapse, was compelled to borrow repeatedly from the CBN, exceeding the 5 per cent threshold of the prior year’s revenue as stipulated by the CBN Act, 2007.

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“That the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning has concluded plans to convert the CBN loans to tradable securities such as treasury bills and bond issuance.”

Gobir said the Senate Special Committee after exhaustive deliberations, recommended among others, the restructuring of N22.7tn for Ways and Means Advances be approved because the advances were made to ensure that the government does not shut down.
The panel further sought the approval of the Senate for the sum of N180.4bn being the balance of the supplementary budget and the interest accrued on the Ways and Mean Advances.

Other recommendations were, “If there is a need to exceed the five per cent threshold of the prior year’s revenue, recourse must be made to the National Assembly for approval.

“The Federal Government should begin the process of recovering the portion of the Ways and Means given as the loans to State Governments as further deferment of the repayment of the loans by the States will not be healthy for the economy.

“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should expedite action on the repayment of the loans through treasury bills and bond issuances.

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“The National Assembly will not condone future increases in the Ways and Means without seeking the approval of the National Assembly.”

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the approval of the fiscal document, noted that the Ways and Means Advances was a global practice.

He, however, faulted the process adopted by the executive arm of government which failed to carry the National Assembly along while accumulating a huge amount of loans.

Lawan added that the Senate had to pass the Ways and Means Advances so that the federal parliament would be able to consider and pass the 2022 Supplementary Budget still pending before the two chambers.

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Tough economy: Trouble in APC, as staff plan strike

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A loud grumbling has enveloped the 40 Blantyre Crescent, Wuse, Zone 2, Abuja, headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), where staff across different departments are threatening to down tools in protest of poor welfare and biting economic hardship.

Daily Trust, is reporting that the staff are specifically asking the party’s top echelon to make provision for their housing and other allowances, stressing that the economic situation of the country had become quite unfavourable to them.

The paper quoted one of the staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that the party’s executive members had left them to suffer, while taking home humongous amounts of money as salaries and allowances.

Though Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, National Chairman of the party, is said to have commenced payment of N35,000 provisional wage award to them in January 2024, they argued that the largesse would in June, and they would be back to square one and therefore, they needed more stable welfare packages.

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In a swift riposte, Felix Morka, spokesman of the party, was quoted as dismissing the agitation, saying: “Those matters I don’t really discuss them. As you can see, there are many important things to discuss; at the national level, in Edo State. We are battling with all that. So, any in-house matters are not my focus right now.”

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BREAKING: Davido ups the ante, doles out N300million to orphanages

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David Adeleke Nigerian music sensation, otherwise known as Davido is stamping his giant feet with which he has mesmerised his audience across the world in the arena of philanthropy, with an announcement of a fresh donation of a whopping N300million to some orphanages across the country.

The latest is an increase of N63million up from the N237million the popular singer, who disclosed the largesse in a statement on his social media accounts on Tuesday, dolled out last year as part of the gesture in what is now turning out a yearly programme since it started a few years ago.

The gesture is coming at a time Nigeria is under an intense weather of deprivation and poverty, with the prices of food and other commodities hitting the roof and citizens, unable to afford basic items mostly going to bed on empty stomachs as a result.

In recent weeks, demonstrations had erupted in many parts of the country, including Niger, Kano, Ogun and Oyo States, where residents trooped into the streets to demand an end to the parlous situation, which they blamed on the insensitive policies of the government of Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian President.

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The singer, who first gave out N250m to 292 orphanages in October 2022, said the this year’s donation would be done through The David Adeleke Foundation (DAF), adding: “I and my foundation pledge the sum of 300 million Naira to orphanages around Nigeria … as my yearly contribution to the nation. Details of disbursement tomorrow.”

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BREAKING: Tinubu set to probe Buhari’s N23trillion Ways and Means debt

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At last, President Bola Tinubu, may be going through the N23trillion Ways and Means debt obtained by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, with a fine comb to determine what the funds, which is attributed to a major part of the current debt overhang in the country, went into.

The Nation, quoted Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy as revealing this much to participants at the ongoing Public Wealth Management Conference organised by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI).

Besides, the Minister reportedly said the Federal Government would also present a bill to the National Assembly, soon to authorise the removal of “all taxes and levies that constitute nuisance from the country’s tax system, as a measure to wean itself from future Ways and Means indebtedness.

The government, Edun added, will vigorously pursue policies that will allow it harvest revenue in real time from Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) and Corporate entities.

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It was also on the same day that the Minister explained that Tinubu’s administration inherited a surge in food and general commodity prices from the previous government, but emphasised the government’s commitment to reducing food prices and tackling the nation’s high inflation rate.

Outlining the measures government was taking in tackling the situation, he revealed that, the government had released 42,000 metric tons of grains, with an additional 60,000 metric tons scheduled for release soon.

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