Frosty Relationship Between N’Assembly, Executive Threatens Buhari’s N4.2tn Bond Request


By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The recent rapprochement between the Senate and the executive arm of government which led the Senate to rescind its earlier decision on the screening of presidential nominees  for various position is set to be broken.

In the imminent face-off, there are indications that the bid by President Muhammadu Buhari to seek parliamentary approval for a N4.2 trillion bond would be stalled by the frosty relationship with Senate

In separate letters read at their respective plenary sessions by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara on March 27, 2018, and on March 28 by Senate President Bukola Saraki, the President had sought approval for the bond.

The N4.2 trillion, Buhari said, is to be deployed to clear obligations to oil marketers,  pensioners’ payments and salary arrears of promoted civil servants, unpaid power bills, debts owed to contractors and suppliers, among other financial obligations.

THISDAY, however, gathered that lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, are not well disposed towards approving the bond.

Aside the hostile relationship, lawmakers are also worried that the expenditure of over N9.2 trillion secured as loans or bonds since 2016, has not been made clear. 

There are also allegations that the president did not first, interface with members of the National Assembly over the bond, before transmitting the request to the lawmakers.

Buhari’s request might also be rejected as his planned expenditure is mainly towards recurrent items, not capital funding which would be more acceptable to the public.

A lawmaker explained to THISDAY off the records that the failure of the president to create a workable and mutually respectful relationship with the National Assembly remains a sore issue.

“Members believe the president has treated them with contempt, and despite mediatory efforts, he continues to do so by words or actions, so there is no point,”  he said.

Another lawmaker wondered why the trillions in generated revenues which the government continues to claim are being made, cannot be deployed to fund such pressing needs?

“This is just another loan. This government is taking too many loans, as far as many of us are concerned,” he said.

He added that the bond request is one of the issues that would be addressed as soon as the lawmakers resume from the Easter recess on April 10, 2018.

“Unless a miracle happens, the general mood at the moment is to reject the bond request,” he said.

Buhari’s letter for the bond approval titled: ‘Request for the Establishment of a Promissory Note Program and a Bond Issuance to Resettle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligation,’ read in part:

“I wish to convey the resolution of the Federal Executive Council requesting the National Assembly to pass a bill to effect the promissory note and bond issuance program to clear the long-standing obligations inherited by this administration,”

“The promissory note and bond issuance programs have become imperative to clear these obligations which include: (a) unpaid obligations to pensioners, salaries and promotional arrears of civil servants (b) obligation to petroleum marketers (c) contractors and suppliers debt (d) unpaid power bills and obligation from tariffs reversal in 2014 (e) export expansion grant IMBET (f) judgement debt (g) refunds to state governments for projects undertaken on behalf of the federal government.

“As you may be aware, sections 41 (1a), 44 (2b) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) stipulate that the proceeds of borrowing, by government at all tiers, shall be applied solely towards capital expenditure, to provide legal backing to clear the recurrent expenditure component of the obligation.

“Request for amendment of the FRA was sent to the National Assembly via a letter from the Presidency dated 4th August 2017,”

“I have attached information of the subject program from the Honourable Minister of Finance for your consideration, who may also provide additional information or clarification,” it read.