The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 approved the payment of N10.016 billion to Kogi State Government three days to the governorship election slated for Saturday.
Enyinnaya Abaribe, the senate minority leader, leading opposition to the payment was sequel to the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on the issuance of sum of N10.016billion promissory note programme to the Kogi State Government and a Bond issuance to settle local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government – refund to states for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
Presenting the report, Clifford Ordia, the chairman of the committee, who represents Edo Central, said that the committee was satisfied with its findings and recommended that the Senate should approve the payment of the amount to the Kogi State Government.
The report which had been slated “to be laid” in the Order Paper was however considered after the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the report be laid and equally discussed.
Abaribe had objected to the Bill being discussed but he was overruled by the Senate President.
Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Senate Jibrin Barau, supported the recommendation of the committee and called on the Senate to approve it.
Barau said the approval would motivate other State Governments to follow the example already laid by the Kogi State Government in repairing Federal Roads. Abaribe in his contribution strongly opposed the approval of the sum and insisted that the approval should be delayed for at least a week, after the election.
Abaribe said: “I agree with Senator Jibrin Barau that states that have done the work of the Federal Government should be paid.
“But a witch cries in the night and a child died in the morning, who does not know who is responsible?
“I agree they should be paid, what I don’t want is misuse. I have the mandate of the Minority to move that this report should be delayed for at least one week.
“We think this is not the right time. We think this is a time exigency of the moment would lead to the money being wasted.”
Lawan in his response noted that the Kogi State Government applied for the refund during the Eight Senate but that the request was not approved.
“All other states that applied at the same time were approved and paid. This witch you said cried in the night, God’s time is the best.
“That we are approving this is just a coincidence. We have done justice to other states and we have to do justice to Kogi State.”
Attempts by Senator Uche Ekwunife to raise a point of order was rebuffed by the Senate President. “I will not take any point of order until I have put the question,” he said.
The recommendation that the money be refunded to the Kogi State Government by the Federal Government was overwhelmingly approved by Senators when it was put to voice vote by the Senate President.
It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on October 15, 2019 requested the Senate for an approval to pay the Kogi State Government N10.069 billion being refund of money spent by the state on behalf of Federal government.
The request was contained in a letter dated 10th October, 2019 and read by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, during plenary.
The President said that the requested amount is for the settlement of inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government to the State for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
President Buhari recalled that 24 out of 25 State Governments had received the approval of the National Assembly for the settlement of claims on projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
He added that the sum of N10.069 billion is outstanding amount due to Kogi State Government which is the only State yet to receive a refund.