By Dipo Olowookere
On Thursday, the Nigerian Senate approved the interim report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Promissory Note Programme and a Bond issuance submitted by Senator Francis Alimikhena.
The ad-hoc committee was set up to look into the request by President Muhammadu Buhari to issue promissory notes and bonds to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations the federal government.
Last month, the Senate tasked the ad-hoc committee to probe the request and advice it appropriately.
On Thursday, the committee laid and presented its interim report after Mr Alimikhena had moved a motion to do so and was seconded by Senator Gilbert Nnaji.
Mr Alimikhena informed his colleagues that his committee invited some members of the executive during their investigation and it was discovered that some state governments were being owed by the federal government for completing some federal projects in their states.
“I support this motion. It is the right move for collaboration between the Executive and the States,” Senator Gbenga Ashafa said while speaking on the issue on the floor of the Senate.
After debating on the interim report, the Senate passed it.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, stated that, “Let me join others in commending the committee for their interim report on the refund to states, this is a step in the right direction.”
“A lot of state governors over the years have carried out a lot of Federal Government roads with this understanding and unfortunately over the years they have just been empty promises. We must commend the government for finding a way to meet this promise,” he said further.
“Secondly, it is important that the process and the procedures by which there is clear understanding on what roads qualify for such refunds and how the process is carried out is clearly stated out so that going forward state governments and Ministry of Works know clearly what the terms of engagements are.
“I see that in this case the committee has depended largely on the reports from the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Finance.
“There are three areas, issues of export, grants and contractor debts, the committee will have to do a thorough job to ensure that some of those requests are actually real,” the Senate President commented.
He noted that, “We need to be sure that they are not just paper entries but they are real commitments. I’ll like the committee to look into that to see whether whatever you need, I don’t think we should rush you, but you must do a thorough job. Once again let me commend the committee on a job well done.”
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