Hours after President Muhammadu Buhari accused the National Assembly of inflating debts to be repaid by the federal government to deserving states, the legislative arm has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Buhari on Tuesday said the total amount approved by the National Assembly to Delta and Taraba States was higher than the amount ‘approved’ by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He also asked the National Assembly to send details relating to the amount approved by the legislative arm to both states.
The debt repayment in promissory notes is for projects executed on behalf of the federal government by various state governments.
According to him, while the Federal Executive Council approved the total sum of approximately N78 billion as reimbursement to Delta and Taraba state governments, the lawmakers approved N90 billion, “which is higher than the amount approved by the Federal Executive Council”.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Senate President Bukola Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the president’s accusations and the media reports were wrong and must have resulted from “misinformation to the president by his aides”.
He said the Senate approved the exact figures for Taraba and Delta States that was submitted to it by the Executive through the Ministry of Finance as stated on page 402 of a document titled, “Federal Ministry of Finance Submission of Federal Government of Nigeria Outstanding Liabilities to National Assembly, May, 2018”.
Part of Mr Olamiyonu’s statement read, “the President had claimed in his letter to the National Assembly dated March 5, 2019 that ‘While the Federal Executive Council approved a total sum of N78, 601, 631, 430.16 as reimbursement to Delta and Taraba State Governments, the National Assembly approved N90, 236,461, 031.36, which is higher than the amount approved by the Federal Executive Council’.
“The Senate would like to clarify that the breakdown which the Executive through the Ministry of Finance submitted to the National Assembly showed that the outstanding liability due to Taraba State is N22, 254,062,330.08 while that of Delta is N67, 982, 398, 701. 28 while the total for the two states is N90, 236, 461, 031. 36.
“Therefore, the National Assembly approved the figures submitted to it by the Ministry of Finance as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government. At no time did the executive forwarded the figure of N78,601,631,430,016 to us and we do not know where the President got that figure from.”
It said the Senate decided to make the clarification in order to set the records straight “and disabuse the minds of the general public”.
“We believe the President must have been misinformed and misadvised by his aides while writing the letter he sent on this issue to the National Assembly,” he said.
The statement however, failed to address another issue raised by the president – which is that the National Assembly failed to approve reimbursements to Bauchi and Kogi States after a FEC approval.