The Senate and House of Representatives, on Wednesday, passed the 2023 appropriation bill after raising the N20.51 trillion proposed spending presented by President Muhammadu Buhari by N1.32 trillion, to N21.82 trillion.

The upper chamber also yesterday approved Buhari’s request of N819.54 billion domestic loan meant to fix infrastructure destroyed by the recent unprecedented floods that ravaged many states in the country.

However, there was tension in the Red Chamber yesterday, as Senators disagreed over the president’s request for the approval of N23. 7 trillion Ways and Means Advances.

The budget passage followed the consideration and approval of the report of the both chambers’ committees on appropriation.

Out of the total sum, N967.48 billion was allocated to statutory transfers; N6.55 trillion for debt service; N8.32 trillion for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure; while the sum of N5.97 trillion was allocated to contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending December 31, 2023.

A breakdown of the budget indicated that Ministry of Works and Housing got the highest capital vote of N398.2 billion, followed by Ministry of Defence, which got N285 billion; while Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development got N248.3 billion.

From the statutory transfers, the National Judicial Council (NJC) was allocated N165 billion; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) got N119.93 billion; Universal Basic Education (UBE), N103.28 billion; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), N173.63 billion; National Human Right Commission, N4.5 billion; North East Development Commission, N59.03 billion; Basic Health Care Fund, N51.64 billion; and National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), N51.64 billion.

Similarly under the statutory transfers was National Assembly Severance/Inauguration of outgoing and incoming 9th and 10th Assembly (Legislators and Legislative Aides), which was allocated N30.17 billion. The National Assembly Office got N30.49 billion; Senate got N33.26 billion; House of Representatives, N51.99 billion; National Assembly Service Commission, N10.55 billion; National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), N7.41billion; and Service Wide Vote was allocated N671.3 million.

A further breakdown showed that the Office of Retired Clerks and Permanent Secretaries got N1.05 billion; National Assembly Library Building, N4.25 billion; Constitution Review, N850 million; Completion of NILDS headquarters, N2.5 billion; Construction of National Assembly Service Commission Building, N10 billion; and Public Complaints Commission, N10.69 billion.

For debt service, domestic debts (including Ways and Means) got N4.49 trillion; foreign debt was allocated N1.81 trillion; and sinking fund to retire maturing loans took N247.72 billion.

Under recurrent expenditure (Non-debt) the presidency was allocated N76.40 billion, Defence got N1.09 trillion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs got N93.68 billion, while Federal Ministry of Information and Culture got N59.82 billion.

Ministry of Interior was allocated N278.69 billion; Police Affairs, N777.40 billion; Communications and Digital Economy, N32.13 billion; National Security Adviser (NSA), N172.60 billion; and Secretary to the Government of the Federation took N70.08 billion.

Furthermore, for the recurrent expenditure, Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs got N4.79 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development, N85.41 billion; while Finance, Budget and National Planning got N29.99 billion.

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment was allocated N16.82 billion; Labour and Employment, N15.52 billion; Science, Technology and Innovation, N52.33 billion; Transport, N18.01 billion; Aviation, N9.43 billion; Petroleum Resources, N33.15 billion; and Works and Housing, N34.98 billion.

For the capital expenditure, Presidency was allocated N20.11 billion; Defence got N285 billion; Foreign Affairs, N5.85 billion; Information and Culture, N11.87 billion; Interior, N45.62 billion; Police, N60.64 billion; NSA. N70.33 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development, N248.35 billion; and Finance, Budget and National Planning, N166.74 billion.

Under capital expenditure, also, Science, Technology and Innovation was allocated N132.57 billion; Transport got N74.26 billion; Aviation, N49.41 billion; Power, N56.14 billion; while Ministry of Petroleum Resources was allocated N2, 387,869,567.

Ministry of Mines and Steel Development got N5, 474, 169,278; Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, N398,275,974,098; National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, N65,030,495, 166; Fiscal Responsibility Commission, N188,235,981; Federal Ministry of Water Resources, N83,256,247,735; and Federal Ministry of Justice, N34,181,659,058.

Others were the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC), N1,133,712,548; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N15,474,499,132; Federal Ministry of Niger Delta, N11,948,769,209; and Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, N6,223,389,922.

Furthermore, while Federal Ministry of Women Affairs was allocated N9,010,121,243; Federal Ministry of Education got N153,735,618,395; Federal Ministry of Health, N134,909,210,815; Federal Ministry of Environment Headquarters, N21,257,480,084; National Population Commission, N31,005,835,945; and Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N32,054,601,066.

The federal legislature, after the approval of the budget, adjourned plenary to Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

2022 Appropriation: National Assembly Approves Buhari’s N819.54bn Supplementary Budget

The Senate earlier on Wednesday approved Buhari’s request of N819.54 billion domestic loan meant to fix infrastructure destroyed by the unprecedented floods that ravaged many states in the country few months ago.

The bill was titled, “A bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR) the total sum of N819, 536,937,813 for the year ending March 31, 2023.”

Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Jibrin Barau, made the presentation.

Presenting the report, Barau recalled that the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill of N819, 536,937,813, all of which were capital expenditure, was read the first time on Wednesday, December 21.

He said, “The senate subsequently read the bill the second time and referred it to the Appropriation Committee in conjunction with Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development; Works and Housing; and Water Resources for further legislative action.”

He said the bill sought to, among other things, make available additional funds to cushion the effects of the 2022 flood on road infrastructure, agriculture, and water infrastructure, and complete some ongoing critical projects that had achieved about 85 per cent completion.

Barau said the supplementary bill would be financed through additional domestic borrowings, which would raise the 2022 budget to N8.17 trillion only, and deficit/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 4.43 per cent.

He said the committee observed that the effects of the 2022 flood across the country and its attendant consequences on roads, bridges, farmlands and the water sector necessitated the supplementary bill request.

Barau stated, “Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) involved in the Supplementary Appropriation Bill requests are: Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, and Federal Ministry of water Resources.”

The chairman said the committee recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should be given N69, 247, 175, 770.

According to him, the Ministry of Works and Housing would get N704, 789, 762, 043, while Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was to get N30, 000,000,000.

“Federal Ministry of Water Resources is to get N15, 500, 000, 000,”Barau said.

Contributing, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi) said the budget would be of benefit to all parts of the country.

“The projects will help in guaranteeing security and ensuring the socio-economic development of rural areas,” Adeyemi stated.

However, Senator Mohammed Ndume (APC-Borno) said, “My worry is that this is the reality of what we are doing today.

“It is today that this Senate has considered to extend the budget by 90 days.

“This budget even if approved, how realistic is it going to be. By the time we process this and the due process that is required in budget implementation for contract execution cannot be circumvented.

“If that is the case, assuming we pass it today, we have 90 days to implement.

“If it is agreed that some of these monies have to be spent within 90 days. It is not possible. Let us not deceive ourselves.

“We should amend the 2023 budget to take care of this projects so that they will have 12 months of implementation.”

The budget was thereafter approved and passed after going through the Committee of Supply.

It, nevertheless, approved that the federal government should source the N819.5 billion from the N1 trillion it was requesting from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The legislature clarified that the approved N819.5 billion would be used for funding for the 2022 supplementary budget.

Buhari had, through an executive communication last week, sought the approval of the National Assembly for N819.54bn supplementary budget.

The request, according to the president, would form part of the 2022 Appropriation Act.

Buhari, in the letter read by President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had said the supplementary appropriation request was meant for the capital expenditure component of the 2022 budget.

The approval of the senate increased the 2022 budget deficit to N8.17 trillion and deficit-to-GDP ratio of 4.43 per cent. It also pushed the country’s domestic debt to over N22 trillion.

The new borrowing equally increased the federal government’s domestic borrowing in 2022 to N3.33 trillion.

To facilitate the implementation of the projects listed in the supplementary bill, the senate extended the life span of the N18.12 trillion 2022 budget to March 31, 2023.

The budget, in line with provisions of Clause 12 of the Appropriation Act and Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulate 12 calendar months for implementation of budget in any fiscal year, was supposed to have ended on December 31, 2022, having started on January 1, 2022.

But Buhari had in the letter read during plenary last Wednesday sought the amendment on the Act for extension of the implementation period.

Buhari in the letter read by President of the Senate said, “I write to request your consideration for an amendment into the 2022 Acts expression Clause 12, as passed and assented to.

“The 2022 Appropriation Acts states, in line with the provisions of section 318 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, this bill expires after 12 months starting from January, 1 to the December, 31, 2022, one assented to.

“The proposed 2022 appropriation supplementary budget submitted to National Assembly for consideration as well as recent 2022 capital releases to MDAs are likely to be utilised before December, 31st, 2022 due to the late release of the funds which will lapse if the capital implementation is not extended beyond December, 2022.

“In the light of the above, the National Assembly is requested to amend the 2022 Acts expression clause to reflect March 31, 2023 for the capital components only.”

The senate accordingly gave the request expeditious consideration and passage by making it pass the required legislative processes within 30 minutes.

President of the Senate in his remarks said the extension of the implementation period of the 2022 budget to March 31, 2023 would provide the required time for implementation of the N819.5 billion 2022 supplementary budget raised by the president.

The sum of N708 billion was approved for the Ministry of Works and Housing; N69 billion for the Ministry of Agriculture; N30 billion for the Federal Capital Territory; and N15 billion for the Ministry of Water Resources.

Tension as Senate Drops Buhari’s N23. 7trn ‘Ways And Means Advances’ Request

There was tension in the Senate on Wednesday, when senators disagreed over the request of the president for the approval of N23.7 trillion Ways and Means Advances.

Buhari had last week demanded the restructuring of N23.7 trillion Ways and Means advances given to the federal government by the CBN.

The president had in his letter explained that Ways and Means were advances from the central bank to the federal government for emergency funding of delayed receipt of fiscal deficit.

But trouble started when Senator Betty Apiafi from Rivers State raised a point of order to stop the presentation of the report by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola.

Apiafi argued that the Nigeria’s constitution did not recognise the use of ‘Ways and Means’ to request National Assembly approval for extra-budgetary spending. She insisted that Buhari should instead forward a Supplementary Budget request for the consideration of the legislature.

The senator said constitutionally, Ways and Means expenditure was not known to Nigeria’s constitution. She was, however, ruled out of order by Lawan for allowing the report to be presented before kicking against it.

The anger of the senators against the report was expressed in negative background noise against its presentation by Adeola.

Adeola presented his report, despite the uproar. Attempts to make the lawmakers maintain decorum were ignored.

He recommended that the senate should invite the executive arm of government to provide further information on the request by Friday.

Hardly had Adeola concluded his presentation than the red chamber became chaotic with senators engaged in hot arguments among themselves.

Lawan hurriedly called for a closed door session when the tension inside the chamber became unbearable

Determined to kill the report at all cost, Senator Thompson Sekibo, also from Rivers State, rose through constitutional orders by citing Sections 80, 83, Section1,13(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 38 of the CBN Act to kick against the request.

Sekibo said, “Section 80 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, states that all revenues or other monies raised or received by the federation, not being revenue and other monies payable under this constitution or any act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the federation established for a particular purpose, shall be paid into and for and form one consolidated revenue fund of the federation

“No money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund of the federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund or where the issue of those monies have been authorised by an appropriation act, supplementary act or an act passed in pursuance of section 81 of the constitution

“No money shall be withdrawn from any account other than the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation unless the issue of those monies have been authorised by the Act of the National Assembly.

“Section 80 (4) states that no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund or any other fund of the Federation except by the approval of the National Assembly, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly .

“Section 38 of the CBN Act states ‘any money collected by federal government as loan or emergency fund in form of Ways and Means Advances, must be refunded before collection of another one.’”

He added, “Mr. President, the relevant laws quoted clearly show that the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means Advances already spent by federal government without informing the National Assembly was wrong and it will be unfair as representatives of Nigerians to approve this request.”

Efforts by the senate president to make senators back down proved abortive as many of them, left their seats and were shouting, “No, No..”

The development caused Lawan to call for closed session that lasted about one and a half hours to try to douse the tension.

After the closed session, the senate, following the amendments to Adeola panel’s report, resolved to step down the restructuring of N22.7 trillion Ways and Means.

The red chamber set up a special committee to summon the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; and heads of other relevant agencies, to provide further details on expenditure made from the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means Advances.

The committee headed by Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East), was to submit its report on January 17, 2023, when the senate resumes plenary after the New Year recess.

Sunday Aborisade and Udora Orizu in Abuja