Investigation On N30trn ‘Ways and Means’ Still On Course – Senate

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The Senate has said that investigation into the N30 trillion Ways and Means facility expended by former President Muhammadu Buhari between 2015 and 2023 is on course and not in limbo.

In a statement he signed yesterday, the Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee, Senator Isah Jibrin, APC Kogi East, refuted an online report that alleged that the investigation was in limbo.

The Ad-Committee Chairman, who is also the Senate Committee Chairman on Customs, Excise, and Tariff in the rebuttal, attached a letter of reminder written to the office of Accountant General for the Federation requiring vital information for thoroughness of the investigative exercise.

Senator Jibrin, who explained that the ad hoc committee was given six weeks when inaugurated in March to carry out the exercise and report back to the Senate, said that thoroughness and diligence required for the sensitive national assignment had caused the committee to exceed the time limit.

He said, “The essence of an investigation is to come up with factual findings and not just roll in a report within specified time frame.

“Investigation on the N30trillion Ways and Means is on course and not in any way in limbo, as insinuated by an online platform today.

“Some of the required findings have been made and still being made, as clearly shown by letter of reminder recently written to the office of Accountant General of the Federation,” he said.

The letter dated June 19, 2024, personally signed by Senator Isah Jibrin and titled: “Request for Submission of Additional Information,” read: “You may recall our earlier letter on the above subject dated 27th May, 2024, requesting for the following additional information on Ways and Means, which you are yet to respond to.

“The required information is details of disbursements under ways and means, names of the beneficiaries, amount or date of disbursements, purpose of the disbursements, terms of the disbursement (where applicable), repayment schedule (where applicable), and adherence to the repayment schedule.”

Ways and Means is a loan facility through which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) finances the federal government’s budget shortfalls.

This way of financing government deficits usually results in macroeconomic instability, leading to inflation and high exchange rates because of the excess liquidity injected into the economy.

The CBN law limits advances under ways and means to 5 percent of the previous year’s revenue, but this has been mostly breached over the years.

As a way of remedying the situation, the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, declared in February this year that the bank would no longer grant ways and means advances to the government “until all outstanding debts are refunded.”

Recall that the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, had in March charged the Committee members investigating the payment of N30 trillion “Ways and Means” secured from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN by the immediate past government in the last 10 years not to leave any stone unturned as they must go after those involved.

Speaking while inaugurating the 17-member ad hoc committee that is probing the humongous N30 trillion ‘Ways and Means’, which was released as loan to the Federal Government during the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Akpabio charged the committee to spend six weeks carrying out the exercise.

The President of the Senate enjoined members of the committee, while carrying out a holistic investigation into the matter, to set aside personal and partisan interests, focus on the task at hand, and approach their responsibilities with utmost balance, devotion, and impartiality.

Recognising the sensitivity of the investigation at hand, Akpabio reminded them to constantly engage with relevant stakeholders and consultants to provide invaluable insights while maintaining open lines of communication with the executive and the public, but disclosing no aspect of the report until the task is concluded.

The Committee to probe the humongous N30 trillion ‘Ways and Means’, which was released as a loan to the Federal Government during the former President Muhammadu Buhari administration and is chaired by Senator Jibrin Isah, APC, Kogi East, has Senators Asuquo Ekpenyong, APC, Cross River South; Mohammed Tahir Monguno, APC, Borno North; Victor Umeh, LP, Anambra Central; and Olamilekan Adeola, APC, Ogun West, as members.

Others are Senators Sani Musa, APC, Niger East; Aliyu Wadada, SDP, Nasarawa; Abdul Ningi, PDP, Bauchi Central; and Ipalibo Banigo Harry, PDP, Rivers West.

The ‘Ways and Means’ is an overdraft taken directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria to solve contingency needs of the nation following approval and directive of the executive arm of government, which would have to be ratified by the parliament.

They are loans or advances by the CBN to the Federal Government to enable it to cater for short-term or emergency finance to fund delayed government expected cash receipts of fiscal deficits.

Akpabio had said, “Today, we gather here with a common purpose: to inaugurate a crucial Ad-Hoc Committee. This committee, which was constituted following the report of the Joint Committees on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions; Finance; National Planning; Agriculture; and Appropriations after interacting with the Federal Government’s Economic Management Team, holds great significance as it is charged with the investigation of the ways and means, including the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

The constitution of this committee is a testament to the Senate’s unwavering commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance. It reflects our dedication to addressing the concerns of the Nigerian people and upholding the principles of democracy.

“To the members of this esteemed committee, I implore you to approach your responsibilities with the utmost sense of patriotism, professionalism, and integrity. Your investigation demands impartiality and fairness, always keeping the public interest and the welfare of our nation at the forefront. We must leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of the truth. Therefore, conduct thorough inquiries and dig out information that will assist the Senate in making laws for the betterment of our country.

“The success of this ad hoc committee hinges on collaboration, cooperation, and a steadfast commitment to the common good. Let us set aside personal and partisan interests, focusing solely on the task at hand. By working harmoniously, we can ensure that the Ways and Means in Nigeria are managed prudently, efficiently, and in accordance with the law.

“Moreover, confidentiality is paramount to your work. The information and data we gather during our investigations are sensitive and must be handled with the utmost care and discretion. Adhering to strict protocols will ensure the security and integrity of the information you uncover.

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