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Rowdy Session at the Nigerian Senate over $1bn ECA fund

Rowdy Session at the Nigerian Senate over $1bn ECA fund

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, said, that the $1 billion recently approved for the Federal Government from Excess Crude Account, ECA, by the National Economic Council, NEC, to assist security architecture in the country, would not be spent without the consideration of the Upper Chamber.

Saraki’s statement came on a day Niger Delta militants demanded the release of $1bilion by the Federal Government from the Excess Crude Oil Account for the Niger Delta to tackle development in their region the same way it approved $1bn to fight insurgency in the North East or they would begin massive destruction of oil pipelines and facilities.

The atmosphere in the Chamber was tensed on Friday as some senators had protested vehemently against his refusal and that of leadership of the Senate to allow for open debate on the issue; hence, it was an uphill task for the senate president to persuade other senators to accept his plea that the debate be shifted to next year.

It would be recalled that at Wednesday’s plenary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, PDP, Imo East, had cited order 42 and spoke on the Nigerian Governors’ approval of $1 billion from excess crude account, adding that the issue had become a matter of urgent national importance, demanding serious debate by the upper chamber.

He had sought the leave of the Senate to bring it as a motion on another legislative day which ought to have been Friday as approved by the Senate.

Trouble, however, started on Friday after the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, rose and drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that Friday’s Senate Order Paper was silent on the matter, despite the fact that the Senate had on Wednesday agreed to debate it, on Friday.

Shortly after Senator Ekweremadu raised the matter, most of his colleagues became agitated and wanted a positive response from Saraki.

However, when Saraki noticed the mood of his colleagues, he painstakingly explained why the motion could not be taken but did not explain why the motion was not on the Order Paper. He explained that the fact that Anyanwu was not in the chamber on Friday has made it difficult for the debate to commence but his explanation failed to stop the push as the murmur from senators grew louder.
Saraki then devised another means, deploying humour to say that his present political party APC would not agree that monies be spent without due process.

Consequently, he assured his colleagues that immediately the Senate returns from the New Year break, a debate would be opened on the motion.

Saraki said: ‘’this matter should have come up today (Friday) but Senator Sam Anyanwu was not able to present his paper today. He sought more time and I agreed with him that it will be taken care of in the next legislative day. (Jeers and laughs by senators)
“No, no, no, no. As you can see, he is not here. And unfortunately, we have put it down. (Murmur from senators)…. Our next legislative day is…. When we resume, it will be the first item on the Order Paper (more jeers from senators).

‘’He is not here. We can’t take it when the person who moved it is not here. And it’s a very important motion that needs to be delivered very well, it cannot be delegated.

“We are pushing for the next legislative day but we will take it. I can assure you that we will take it; I give you assurance that we will take it (jeers from PDP senators continued).’’

When he realized that senators were insisting that the motion must be taken, Saraki said: ‘’No no, no, no, no. Our party does not do things like that. We will not spend money that does not follow due process. I am assuring you that that money will not be spent until we come back here and debate it.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned plenary till January 16, 2018, after resumption on January 9.

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