Senate rejects CBN’s policy of N100,000 withdrawal per week, threatens 100 agencies with zero budgetary allocation
The Senate has rejected the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) withdrawal limit of N100,000 per week.
It has also threatened 100 federal government-owned agencies with zero budget allocation in 2023 for not honouring invitations of its committee on Public Accounts for explanations on service-wide vote expenditure from 2017 to 2021.
The legislative hammer lowered on the affected 100 agencies which include: the State House, Presidential Fleet, Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) etc, was a sequel to the complaint lodged against them by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South).
Urhoghide had through orders 42 and 95 of the Senate Standing Rules, rose to complain on the alleged recalcitrance of heads of the affected agencies to honour invitations sent to them by his committee for required appearance before it for explanations on service-wide vote given to them by the presidency totalling N1.9trillion.
Service Wide Vote, according to him, is extra-budgetary spending made to fill shortfalls in capital and recurrent expenditures, which are not audited by the Auditor General of the Federation and not known to various standing committees of the National Assembly.
Urhoghide who hinged his complaints on provisions of sections 62, 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), said heads of the affected agencies failed to honour several invitations sent to them to make required explanations on service-wide vote spending from 2017 to 2021.
He said the affected agencies were also those who refused to appear before the committee to answer queries slammed on them by the Auditor General of the Federation on alleged financial infractions.
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“Mr President, heads of agencies totalling about 100, indicted in various reports forwarded to the Public Account Committee by the Office of Accountant General of the Federation on disbursements and spending of Service Wide Vote from 2017 to 2021, in line with provisions of sections 62, 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, has repeatedly failed to appear before us.
“This to us is against the Constitution and policy of accountability and transparency of the federal government.
“I crave your indulgence that we invite through your order either by way of warrant of arrest or anything so that these agencies can come that we can complete our report and submit to this Senate”, he said.
Miffed by the submission, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, requested the list of the affected agencies, read them out to all Senators and ordered that they should appear before the committee within one week or risk zero budget allocation in 2023 as far as capital expenditure component is concerned.
“Your point of order is sustained fully and completely, totally sustained, you are right on the dot to bring to the plenary your grievances.
“Reading this list at plenary gives the agencies the opportunity to now know if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance and I am taking the opportunity here to advise that in the next one week if the name of any agency is here that agency should reach the committee on public account of the Senate to sort our when the agency would appear before the committee.
“If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reason is given, we will slash the budget of the agencies as far as the capital component is concerned.
“Heads of the affected agencies must take this very seriously because any serving public officer must be ready to render accounts on public funds and if not ready to do so, should quit since nobody should be above the law”, he thundered.
Other affected agencies aside from the ones earlier mentioned are: the Office Of The Accountant General Of The Federation, Federal Ministry Of Interior, Budget Office Of The Federation, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, National Emergency Management Agency, National Commission For Refugees, Migrants And Internally Displaced Persons, Nigeria Security And Civil Defence Corp, Ministry Of Defence and Office Of The Special Assistant To The President On Niger Delta Affairs.
Others are: the Ministry Of Petroleum Resources, National Inland Water Ways Authority Lokoja, Federal Ministry Of Health, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Ministry Of Agriculture And Rural Development, Federal Civil Service Commission, Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority, National Health Insurance Scheme, Ministry Of Communications And Digital Economy, Tertiary Education Trust Fund Tetfund, Federal Ministry Of Youth And Sport Development, Ministry Of Environment, National Hajj Commission Of Nigeria, Revenue Mobilization Allocation Fiscal Commission, Federal Ministry Of Information And Culture, Nigeria Defence Academy, National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria Centre For Disease Control, National Security Adviser among others.