….suspends restructuring of N22.7 trn Ways and Means expenditure
By Haruna Salami
The Senate on Wednesday passed the 2023 budget of N21.5 trillion.
It also passed the 2022 supplementary budget of N819.5 billion.
However, the upper chamber has suspended consideration of restructuring of the controversial N22.719 trillion Ways and Means expenditure requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Controversy started when Sen Adeola, Solomon Olamilekan (Lagos West), Chairman Senate Committee on Finance submitted a report for the Senate to receive and consider the report of the Committee on the approval of Ways and Means 2022.
However, Senator Betty Apiafi (Rivers West) immediately raised a Point of Order to stop Adeola from presenting the report because, according to her, the Ways and Means expenditure was not known to Nigerian constitution or any other law.
At some point, the Senate President Ahmad Lawan ruled her out of order because, he said, the report was yet to be submitted to the Senate.
Attempts by Adeola to explain that “Ways and Means are advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the Federal Government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficit, fell on deaf ears as Senate became very rowdy.
The Senate President’s appeal to his colleagues to “please allow him land” and assurance that “whoever wants to speak will speak”, only led to more rowdiness.
In his contribution, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South), apparently referring to the N819.64 billion supplementary budget, said his worry was that bringing that request less than 90 days to the end of the extended life of the 2022 budget was “unrealistic in view of the strict budget implementation process” that has to do with advertising, bidding and procurement.
The passage of the 2023 budget followed the receipt and consideration of the report of the Committee on Finance on the Finance Bill, 2022 by Senator Adeola Solomon and that of Appropriations by Senator Barau Jibrin.
Meanwhile the Senate has proceeded on recess till January 17, 2023.