The Senate resolved on Thursday to debate a motion asking it to investigate the legality or otherwise of President Muhammadu Buhari’s approvals for bailout and Paris Club Funds released to states so far.
Samuel Anyanwu from (PDP, Imo State) drew the attention of his colleagues to the legality of the funds given to governors by President Buhari.
He also sought to know who gave the approval, since the National Assembly was not consulted before the disbursement.
Anyanwu said: “I am worried about the Paris club refunds. Governors are asking for more funds. Where is this money from? The Senate has not given any approval. Who gives the approval and what is the money for.
“I heard the President scolding them. The President was asking them how they sleep at night even when they do not pay salaries. They have received billions of naira. I feel worried. Even the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has told the President to stop giving bail out funds to governors.
“If you look at front pages of paper, you will see the issue there. This is the problem. If my colleagues will allow me, I want to bring this as a motion at our next legislative day. I so submit.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, while speaking on the matter, sought the leave of his colleagues to approve that a proper motion be brought to the floor at another legislative day.
The next legislative day is Tuesday, 24th of October, 2017. Since no further comments were permitted by Saraki, lawmakers thereafter agreed that Anyanwu should present a proper motion at the next legislative sitting.
President Buhari, in 2015, few weeks after he assumed office, approved bailout funds to states to settle salary arrears, without any recourse to the National Assembly, as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Section 80 (4) of the constitution states that “No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
In late 2016 and early 2017, President Buhari approved the disbursement of N760.17 billion in two tranches of N243.79 billion each to the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory. The funds were also meant to offset backlog of salaries of state civil servants.
On Tuesday, governors again met with President Buhari before he departed for a summit in Turkey and demanded the release of the outstanding Paris Club refund by November, to enable them include it in their 2018 budget appropriation.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja