Senate to probe Buhari, Emefiele over N30tn CBN loans

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The Senate on Tuesday resolved to probe how the N30tn Ways and Means loans of the Central Bank of Nigeria was obtained and spent by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ways and Means is a loan facility through which the CBN finances the government’s budget shortfalls.

The senate stated that the reckless spending of the overdraft collected from the CBN under Godwin Emefiele largely accounted for the food and security crises the country was currently facing.

The red chamber then resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate what the N30tn overdraft was spent on by the immediate past government, noting that the details of the spending were deliberately not made available to the National Assembly.

The ad-hoc committee which will be constituted on Wednesday (today) will also probe the N10tn expended on the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the $2.4bn forex transaction out of the $7bn obligation made for that purpose as well as other intervention programmes.

The development came as biting food crisis, rising inflation, naira depreciation and worsening insecurity continue to take tolls on Nigerians.

President Bola Tinubu and his economic team have come under intense criticism after his last year’s fuel subsidy removal and exchange unification policy unleashed harsh economic conditions on citizens.

Tinubu’s cabinet members have continued to argue that the current crises were exacerbated by the gross mismanagement of the Buhari regime, arguing the current reforms were meant to right the wrongs of the past administration.

The latest move by the Senate is expected to unravel the ways the country and its resources was  allegedly mismanaged by the Buhari administration.

Buhari had in a letter to the National Assembly in January 2023 requested that the N22.7trn Ways and Means loan should be converted to a 40-year bond with a moratorium of three years.

He also requested approval to borrow an additional N1trn to fund the N819.5 billion 2022 supplementary budget which the lawmakers approved last December.

Following the request, the House of Representatives on May 4, 2023, approved the conversion of the N23.7trn loan to a long-term bond for 40 years at the rate of nine per cent per annum.

The bond has a moratorium of three years.

The lower chamber approved the consideration of the report presented by the House Committees on Finance, Banking and Currency and Aids, Loans and Debt Management.

The Committee of Supply, chaired by the then Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, considered the recommendation in the report and approved it.

But the 9th Senate was thrown into a chaotic session after some lawmakers opposed Buhari’s request to approve the CBN loan as they demanded the details of his proposal.

 

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Adeola Olamilekan, attempted to present the report of the president’s request when Rivers senator, Betty Apiafi, raised a Point of Order and said the president’s request was not constitutional.

She was, however, ruled out of order by the then Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who asked that Olamilekan present the report before contributions are made.

Citing relevant laws from the Constitution, the CBN Act and the Senate Standing Rules, Rivers senator, George Sekibo, argued that the request was not in line with the Constitution.

‘’It will be a disservice that we have spent that money on behalf of Nigerians. It will be an abuse of our personal sense and against our privileges if we approve this request without details of the expenditure,’’ he insisted.

Many lawmakers who opposed the president’s request either said it was against the laws or wondered why the National Assembly was not notified when the amount was taken from the Central Bank.