President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria.
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his request to pay an outstanding N22.7 trillion to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He made the appeal on Tuesday when he signed the 2023 budget into law.
The money, he had said, was taken by the federal government from the apex bank and it is the balance accumulated for over 10 years.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how senators disagreed during the consideration of the president’s request last Wednesday.
The chamber was thrown into a rowdy session when some lawmakers kicked against the request described as unconstitutional.
The row which lasted several minutes saw the senators disagreeing on the matter. While some lawmakers demanded details of the expenditure, others wondered why the amount was taken without the notice and approval of the National Assembly.
The disagreement forced the lawmakers to suspend consideration of the president’s request till 17 January to allow for proper scrutiny.
At the budget signing, Mr Buhari reminded the lawmakers that the balance 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/or borrowings.”
The president said he has no intention to abrogate the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of the balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.
However, failure to approve the amount could cost the government over N1 trillion, he said.
”Failure to grant the securitisation 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 three per cent and the negotiated interest rate of nine per cent and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.”
The Ways and Means are advances (or funds) from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the federal government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficit.
A PREMIUM TIMES analysis found that the central bank’s advances to the federal government in the last seven years rose to N23.8 trillion, an unprecedented rise that violated the law, stoked inflation and worsened the country’s debt burden.
On Tuesday, in his reaction to the president’s speech, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the National Assembly is “already considering” the president’s request.
He, however, assured that while the request is being considered, they will insist on “getting the right documents for the committees” to ensure that whatever decision is taken, is based on information and knowledge from the documents.