Ahmad Lawan’s Leadership Under Focus As N29 trillion “Ways and Means” Divide Senate

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Former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan’s leadership of the Senate in the Ninth National Assembly may be on the spot following the heated debate in the chamber over the N29 trillion Ways and Means funds by the immediate past administration which the lawmakers approved after its expenditure.

The ‘Ways and Means’ fund is an overdraft of funds drawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria following emergency and contingency needs of the Federal Government, and the senate in the Ninth Assembly, under its former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan approved its securitisation.

The approval by the Senate is said to have violated section 38 of the CBN Act of 2007 and the provision in section 80(2) of the Nigerian constitution which disapproves spending of public funds without appropriation by the National Assembly. Such expenditure is also a criminal offence under the Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Act which regards it as stealing under the penal code applicable in the FCT.

At a debate in the senate over the Way and Means, Senator Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District, insisted that the Senate had acted illegally by allowing funds drawn from CBN, and already expended to be brought to the parliament for approval.

“The funds having been spent were sent to the National Assembly for approval and ratification after the funds have been expended”, stated Senator Ali Ndume who cited relevant sections in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and noted that the Senate lacked powers to approve funds already spent.

However, there were disagreements when a report was submitted to the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday by Senator Abdullahi Yahaya Abubakar-led Joint Committees on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Appropriation and the altercation deepened when Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje argued that the upper legislative Chamber had the power to approve.

Ndume insisted that he was not part of the plenary which approved the Ways and Means in advance, but it was required that after funds were spent, the Executive was expected to revert with details of how the funds were expended, hence.

He noted that the report presented lacked details, saying, “Mr. President, I was not part of the plenary that gave the nod for Ways and Means but the detail of funds spent was not provided. This is illegal.”

Amid the rancorous debate, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio insisted that the details be provided, noting that the 10th Senate would not be a rubber stamp for anyone.

Akpabio said, “We are where we are today as a result of illegal things, and I think details of Ways and Means must be provided.”

It would be recalled that President Bola Tinubu’s Special Investigator, Jim Obazee criminalised the approval of the Ways and Means by the Senate in his report, and also asked President Tinubu to approach the Supreme Court for the nullification of the securitisation of the expenditure by the Ahmad Lawan leadership of the senate.

President Tinubu appointed Jim Obazee in July 2023 to investigate the CBN and related entities and also, other Government Business Entities (GBEs) and to report his findings to the President.

Obazee in his report said the Ways and Means ought to be temporary advances to the federal government in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue and to be repaid at the end of the financial in which they are granted, at an interest, according to section 38 of the CBN Act of 2007, is never to be repaid by way of promissory note, securitisation or issuance of treasury bills.

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