A member of the National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume, says Senate “did not know” of the N22 trillion Ways and Means Advances offered the Federal Government by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Ndume said this on Friday while speaking on Politics Today, Channels Television programme.
He said the National Assembly learnt about the advance on December 20 when President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Senate requesting their approval for the sum.
Recall that some members of the Senate had objected to and rejected the President’s request in a letter to restructure the N22.7tn ‘Ways and Means’ loan.
Ndume representing Borno South Senatorial District revealed that the Senate had questioned the request for approval, adding that the two-page report sent to the floor of the Senate did not explain what the monies had been used for.
The lawmaker noted that the issuance of the ways and loans advance from the CBN to the government had been going on since the Jonathan administration, questioning what constitutional right the Senate had to ratify a loan it had not been initially contacted to approve.
Ndume said, “We didn’t know. We only knew on 20th December when Mr. President wrote to the Senate, asking us to approve the twenty-two point something trillion, that was spent from the CBN through the ways and means. That was what triggered the argument, and most importantly, it was just a two-page report, there were no details as to what the money was used for. And it would have been ridiculous or a disservice if we had just gone ahead to approve it.
“It is wrong and this thing has been going on even before Buhari became the President. The illegality has been going on, and I think when he met it like that, they continued on that path, but now he realised that actually, the National Assembly has to approve it. But then I asked my colleagues that time, when the money is already spent, you don’t approve it, you only ratify it. Then that brings us to the constitutional matter, of whether even the National Assembly has the right to do what it is asked to do.”
He said the Senate had not rejected the request, but only stood it down until a committee had investigated it.
He added that the question remained an issue of whether the Senate had the right to ratify the loan.
“No, we didn’t reject it, we stood it down and set up a special committee to look at it. And even if we get the details, my question remains do we even have the right? Approval is when you seek the consent of the National Assembly to do something, not when you have already done it,” he added.