Contrary to opinions in some quarters that the Senate would not approve the N180bn request by President Muhammadu Buhari for the virement of funds appropriated in the 2016 Appropriation Act; the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday dazzled Nigerians by not only approving the said amount; but also increased the virement to the tune of N213,821,671,494.
The Senate also approved additional request of N300m appropriated in the 2016 Budget under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for the construction of 132 KVA substation at Gwaram, Jigawa state.
President Muhammadu Buhari had about a month ago written to the National Assembly, requesting that a total of N180bn be approved as virement of funds appropriated in the 2016 Appropriation Act; to attend to some critical capital and recurrent expenditures.
The Senate considered the request and referred it to its committee on Appropriations for further legislative action on Wednesday 16th November 2016.
Presenting the report on Tuesday, the Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), said, “the committee met with its House counterpart and deliberated on the course of action in order to abridge time. And also jointly had an interactive meeting with the affected MDAs on the virement, that is, the source of the funds and the expenditure MDAs in the Budget to clarify the need for the virement.”
To justify the rationale behind approving far above the requested sum, Senator Goje said, “the affected MDAs justified the need for intervention in their respective Agencies and some also made the point that the amount proposed in the request was inadequate to meet the observed shortfall required to carry out their mandate and financial obligations”.
“In the course of the interaction with the MDAs, the committee observed that there are other areas of critical need that are capable of stimulating the economy which additional funds can still be provided with monies vired from the Special Intervention Programme,” he added.
A critical analysis of the report of the Committee shows that the Senate approved the sum of N167,113,304,018 for recurrent expenditures as against the N165,430,886,954 requested for in Buhari’s letter.
The committee also approved the sum of N2,500,000,000 as Statutory Transfer in the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) salary shortfall, instead of N1,200,000,000 requested by the President.
Another look at the report shows that President Buhari requested for the sum of N14,208,367,476 as capital expenditure for Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE); whereas, the Senate approved the sum of N39,208,367,476.
Though there were divergent of opinions, especially from the opposition members of the Senate on the propriety or otherwise of the recommendations of the committee, majority of the Senators present gave a voice votes in support, thereby adopting the report of the Committee and approved a total sum of N213,821,671,494, in addition to N300m as virement of funds for President Buhari.