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Disquiet as Tinubu insists on probing Buhari’s 30 trillion Naira Loan



President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with former President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari

Amid biting economic realities, the Federal Government of Nigeria has firmed up its intent to audit the 23 trillion Naira Ways and Means debt incurred by the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari, 81, a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army, served as Nigeria’s president for two four-year terms spanning 2015 to 2023.

He had earlier served as the country’s military head of state from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after seizing power via a coup d’etat from the Shehu Shagari civilian government.

*Background of the 30 trillion Naira Debt

It is revealed that President Buhari obtained Ways and Means amounting to over 135 Billion Naira but it is the tranche of 30 Trillion Naira which is currently under probe.

Insecurity, endemic corruption and harsh economic policies including closure of borders against importation without first of all boosting internal production capacity, greatly derailed his administration.

In a bid to jumpstart the economy, Buhari obtained the Ways and Means from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), then headed by now embattled Godwin Emefiele.

*What is “Ways and Means”?

The phrase ‘Ways and Means’ originated from the 17th century British Parliament and it is “the provision of revenue to meet national expenditure requirements.”

In the Nigerian context, however, Ways and Means is understood as an emergency loan sourced to fix pressing national needs.

*What the Law says

DDM understands that Section 38 (1) and Section 38 (2) of the CBN Act were flouted in the procurement of the said loan.

The Act prescribes that borrowing via Ways and Means must be temporary and should only occur in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue.

It was emphasized that the Buhari administration had previously borrowed funds from international sources to fund large swathes of its budget and also had no alarming revenue shortfall, hence no justification to have approached the CBN for the loan.

Section 38 (2) of the CBN Act was also flouted.

It stipulates that “the total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government.”

However, Buhari overshot the five percent ceiling and grew ways and means from N856 billion to N23.8 trillion, representing 2,635 percent in seven years.

In 2017, actual revenue was N2.7 trillion but ways and means stood at N1,1 trillion, representing 37.2 percent of the previous year’s revenue (N2.95 trillion).

This is against the spirit of Section 38(2) of the CBN Act.

In 2018, actual revenue stood at N3.87 trillion whereas ways and means was estimated at N2.1 trillion.

In 2019, actual revenue was N4.12 trillion while ways and means stood at N3.3 trillion, indicating 85.27 percent of the 2018 revenue.

In 2020, actual revenue was N4.04 trillion, with ways and means standing at N4.4 trillion, representing 107 percent of the previous year’s revenue, meaning that Buhari borrowed 7 percent more than the revenue realised in 2019 from the CBN.

In 2021, actual revenue was N 4.64 trillion while ways and means was N4.3 trillion, representing 106.4 percent of the 2020 revenue. In 2022, actual revenue was N6,49 trillion whereas ways and means advances stood at N6.4 trillion, representing 138 percent of the 2021 revenue.

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Buhari’s Apology

President Muhammadu Buhari, on May 28, 2023, in his farewell speech to the country, apologised for some economic policies of his administration that caused suffering to Nigerians.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari

“We made some difficult choices.

“While some yielded the desired results, some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologised to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the overall good of the country.”

Current Situation

Barely nine months into the new administration, Nigeria’s economy has plunged into unimaginable depths even as key players in government put the blame on the previous administration and opposition politicians.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, says the federal government will leave no stone unturned in auditing the said Ways and Means.

He announced this at the Public Wealth Management Conference organised by the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday in Abuja.

“there was an inherited amount of N22.7trn in backlogs. We are auditing it and it is like when I am ready to pay a loan from a bank and I ask for an audit before finding the agreed sum to pay.

“But apart from that, how do you get your ways and means down? We have to get revenues up and expenditure reduced as much as possible.”

Senate President Godswill Akpabio waded into debate within the week.

Addressing the Senate on the report of the Senate Committee set up to probe the Ways & Means funds approved by the 9th Assembly, Akpabio revealed that the CBN had come forward with a 30 Trillion Naira request for refund.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio

“We got to N30 trillion because of the interest element.

“They (CBN) brought that before this current Senate, that the interest has accrued to the N23 trillion that was passed by the 9th Senate and that they needed additional 7 trillion Naira which was the interest.

“We passed the interest and that is what was added to make it N30 trillion.”

The Senate President frowned that the 9th Senate under the leadership of Lawan (an ally of former President Buhari) “had thrown Nigeria into a more economic mess.”

Asking Lawan to speak on the issue, Akpabio said: “We are saying what you did at that time has put the nation in more mess economically.

“Therefore, because of the current economic situation we have found ourselves, there is the need for us to look at the details to know whether they were rightly spent.”

Lawan responding argued: “What the 9th National Assembly approved or rectified in terms of Ways & Means was not N29 trillion or N30 trillion, it was N22 trillion.

“But there was N819 billion to attend to, deal with and address very serious infrastructure dilapidations that we had across the country.

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“If we have a Ways & Means that is N30 trillion today, that means something happened between then and now, and it is for the National Assembly to find out what happened.”

He, however, promised to cooperate with the Senate throughout the probe process.

Lawan, like Akpabio, had aspired to succeed Buhari as Nigeria’s president under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Both, having later settled for the Senate, were locked in a fierce battle to clinch the presidency of the Senate. Akpabio triumphed.

Also during the plenary, Akpabio also demanded that Chief Whip, Senator Ali Ndume, as a member of the 9th Senate, explain what transpired, but Ndume quickly denied being involved in its approval.

Also reacting, Senator Mustapha Habib representing Jigawa South West Senatorial District said apart from the Ways & Means, there were loans given to state governments and the manufacturing sector, some of which had not been returned.

“We have a colossal amount of money given to the banks and this amount ran into trillions of Naira. We need to really interrogate this. DisCos (Electricity dictribution companies) were also given money by the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria). This money needs to be returned to CBN,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, the Senate has adopted the president’s directive to securitize the Ways and Means. It says aside from auditing the funds, securitization is a viable way out of the issue

Securitisation is the practice of pooling together various types of debt instruments and selling them as bonds to investors.

CBN announces conditional ban on further Ways and Means

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, has said that the apex bank will no longer give Ways and Means to the President until the previous loans are repaid.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Michael Cardoso

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Michael Cardoso

Cardoso noted that it was one of the measures taken by the apex bank to curtail the economic downturn currently plaguing the country.

Former CBN Chief, Emefiele, threatens Akpabio with 25b Naira suit

Former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who is facing charges bordering on economic sabotage, through his legal team, has threatened to sue President of the Nigerian Senate, Godswill Akpabio over alleged defamation.

Emefiele would demand N25 billion in damages from the Senate President if he fails to apologise, according to his solicitors.

Former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

Former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

This was contained in a letter signed by his lead counsel, Matthew Burkaa, SAN, and addressed to Senator Akpabio on Emefiele’s brief and instruction.

It is in reaction to a widely circulated statement made by the Senate President in a video displayed by Channels Television last weekend which, according to Emefiele, is false, distorted and clearly aimed at disparaging his character.

DDM recalls that Akpabio had recently said, “We don’t know what crime to charge Emefiele with.”

“So the kind of debt and the kind of economic mess that we are in, a lot of people do not understand, I remember President Obama saying you cannot know Washington until you get to Washington.

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“So by the time we went in to look at the economic state of the country, it was terrible, so the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria we didn’t even know what to charge him…

“But, what I know is that, yes there is hunger today because of the policies that they took,” Akpabio said.

In his letter to the Senate President, Emefiele said Akpabio had, in his statement suggested that “the cause of the entire hardship in Nigeria today is as a result of the policies of the previous administration.”

It also said it portrayed Emefiele as “a serial offender whose action is responsible for all the hardship experienced by Nigerians today.

“A person who has committed offences that are so numerous that the government is confused as to which of the offences to prefer a charge against him.”

He accused Akpabio of subjudice, saying the former CBN chief had been charged to court and is currently defending himself.

He said it was worrisome that as head of the legislature, Akpabio should have known that his statement undermined the integrity and independence of the court.

“You are also aware that no single policy was carried out by Our Client without the approval, directive or authorization of the President and/or the Federal Executive Council of which you were a key and powerful member.

“It is pursuant to the above and without delving into the matter presently pending in Court that Our Client has instructed that we write to Your good offices and demand the immediate retraction of Your statement which has gone viral and are considered clearly defamatory of Our Client

“These baseless and false allegations clearly defames the character of Our Client and has also caused him great pains and embarrassment as it has lowered his esteem before the right thinking members of the Society in addition to the obvious odium and opprobrium from the unsuspecting members of the Society as a result of the falsity contained in that statement.

“We therefore have Our Client’s further instruction to demand from you an unreserved apology in writing, published and circulated by the same medium with which you have defamed his character and the sum of twenty-five billion Naira (N25,000,000,000) as reasonable compensation for the willful and unjustifiable denigration of his hard-earned reputation.

“In the event that you fail, refuse or neglect to comply with this legitimate demand, our Client will be at liberty to seek the appropriate redress available to him under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Whilst anticipating your compliance with the above, kindly accept the assurances of our best regards,” the letter reads in part.

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