By Dipo Olowookere
Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, has announced that the upper arm of the National Assembly will set up an ad-hoc committee to critically look into the request made by President Muhammadu Buhari in March this year, seeking an approval for the issuance of promissory note and bond to offset local debts.
The matter was brought up at the plenary on Wednesday by the Senate Leader, Mr Ahmed Lawan, who asked the lawmakers to consider approving the President’s request because it was meant for the payment of “inherited debts” like pension arrears, including for former employees of the defunct Nigeria Airways, local contractors, subsidy and others.
While presenting the executive communication, Mr Lawan urged the Senate refer the matter to the appropriate committee for further legislative action.
“Mr President, I wish to move that this motion be referred to the relevant committee for further legislative action,” the Senate Leader said.
However, the Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, countered this argument, saying, “I will like to make a few comment regarding this request.
“This request is germane and makes a lot of sense because a number of people are dependent on the approval of this request for their daily bread and continuity of their business.
“But looking at this request and the letter earlier written to us by the President, there are a number of issues involved which include payment of pensions, salaries, subsidy and some refund to states for federal projects executed by them.
“In view of the multi-dimension of this and of course the controversy regarding borrowing money to pay for the current item, which is forbidden under the Fiscal Responsibility Act, I think we should set up an appropriate ad-hoc committee to look at the issues together and see which of them can be recommended to this Senate for approval, while the other technically deficient and controversial ones can then be sent back to the executive to decide what to do.
“To do all these under one committee would be difficult except we bring together the different committees involved in the whole issues in the request.
“Otherwise, the wisest thing to do is to set up a small committee to look into the issues and advise the Senate on what to do.”
This view was supported by Mr Abdullahi Yahaya.
After listening to the arguments and putting the motion to voice votes, the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, announced that Senate will set up an ad hoc committee to look into the matter and advise the red chamber appropriately.
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