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IT was a day of anger and grandstanding Wednesday at the Senate.

Senators engaged Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi in a fierce verbal exchange over the duo’s public statements on the National Assembly’s spending profile.

Aganga denied ever making any public comments on the matter.

Sanusi owned up to his statement, saying he relied on a document he got from the Director-General of the Budget Office to draw his conclusion.

At a point, he told the Senators that he could quit the job, “if you want me to.”

“I’m not tired of my job, but if you want me to resign, I will resign. The Central Bank is not my life.”

Senator Gyang Dantong was asking him whether he was tired of his job.

Sanusi maintained that the National Assembly alone gets N136.25 billion of the Federal Government’s overhead of N536.26 billion, representing 25.4 per cent.

But, the senators tendered the 2010 Budget, which revealed that the estimate for the National Assembly was N158 billion of the N3.9 trillion national budget, representing 3.77 per cent of the total appropriation.

To discredit the CBN Governor’s claims, the senators called on the Finance Minister to do the percentage calculation of N158 billion of N3.9 trillion.

Aganga also arrived at 3.77 per cent.

But Sanusi was not deterred by Aganga’s concurrence with the senators’ calculation; he said he did not know where the Minister got his figures.

He resisted further pressure from the lawmakers to make a recant and apologise.

Sanusi said: “I confirm that I did say in my speech at the Igbinedion University that 25 percent of the overhead of the Federal Government goes to National Assembly. I have figures from the Budget Office for the year 2010.

“The total government overhead is N536, 268, 49, 280. Total overhead of the National Assembly is N136, 259, 768, 112 which is exactly 25.4 percent of Federal Government overhead.

"The overhead of the National Assembly as a percentage of the Federal Government budget in 2009 was 19. 87 and 14.19 in 2008”

Apparently to douse the tension in the meeting room, Aganga explained that the CBN Governor could be right, depending on the context in which he made the computation and the purpose for which it was made.

According to Aganga, the document, which Sanusi relied on did not consider what he described as service wide votes in the course of computation. Besides, his submission could not be totally written off as misleading, although it might not be as accurate as it should be, the minister said.

The senators rejected Aganga’s explanation, saying that it was apparent that Sanusi made his computation primarily to serve mischievous ends aimed at inciting the public against members of the National Assembly.

Chairman of the Appropriation Committee Senator Iyiola Omisore accused Sanusi of misleading the public by his statement and demanded that the CBN Governor should correct the misinformation.

But Sanusi fired back: “I have not misled anybody. I am on oath. I got my document from the Budget Office. You can ask the Director of Budget.

“I think it was important for us to say in what context that statement was made. I was giving a lecture on the growth prospect of the Nigerian economy. I talked about financial plans, economic policies, banking system and government finances.

“As the Finance Minister has mentioned, if you look at the structure of government financing especially in 2008 and 2009, we have had a rapid increase in recurrent expenditure and decline in capital expenditure.

Apparently miffed by what they perceived as Sanusi’s grandstanding, the senators demanded to know the annual 2010 budget of the CBN. Sanusi replied: “N 303 billion”. The response attracted hash comments from the agitated lawmakers.

“The entire National Assembly budget is N158 billion; that of the CBN is N303 billion. In that case, if the National Assembly gets 25 per cent of the federal funds, going by your response, it means that the CBN spends over 57 per cent of the federal funds”, one of the senators told Sanusi.

He did not reply.

Incidentally, Sanusi’s line of defence was inadvertently punctured by the Finance Minister when he said that the CBN Governor got the document he relied on only Wednesday morning.

Sanusi made the statement about a week ago.

This was all the senators needed to impugn mischief into Sanusi’s action. One after the other, the lawmakers jeered at the CBN governor.

The panel then urged the minister to take the sector in order and ensure that key operators in finance comport themselves with decorum.

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