Senate Suspends Ningi For 3 Months Over Budget Padding Allegation

I never said 2024 budget was padded - Senator Ningi
1 month ago
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The Nigerian Senate has slammed a three-month suspension on Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central senatorial district over his comment in relation to the 2024 national budget.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, made the declaration on Tuesday during plenary session as a punishment for what the Senate considered as a misconduct on the part of Senator Ninigi, capable of tarnishing the image and integrity of the entire National Assembly before Nigerian citizens and the international community.

The upper legislative chamber arrived at the decision after considering a motion moved by Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, on the need to address the false allegations made by Abdul Ningi against the Presidency and the National Assembly on the 2024 national budget.

Senator Ningi had in an interview with BBC Hausa Service, reportedly said there was an additional sum of N3 trillion in the budget which was not traced to any project.

While moving his motion, Senator Adeola, who represents Ogun West senatorial district, said there was an urgent need to address the false allegation against the Senate and the Presidency by Ningi on the 2024 Appropriation Act.

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He said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 30 November 2023 presented a budget proposal of N27.5 trillion and it was thereafter referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which Ningi is a member, for further legislative action.

Senator Adeola added that to meet the January-December budget cycle, the sub-committees submitted their harmonised reports to the Committee on Appropriations and the report of the committee on Appropriation was submitted to the Senate “and was unanimously passed on Saturday, the 30th of December 2023, and a budget of N28.77 trillion was assented to by President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 1st January 2024.”

He explained that copies of the document containing details of the budget were shared to the 109 members of the Senate, adding that paragraphs 7 and 8 of the documents contain breakdown of the budget for the entire MDAs and when the figures for the entire MDAs are added together, would give a total of N25.4 trillion.

The Ogun West senator further clarified that “there are agencies of the government whose budget and their details are not contained in the document because they are statutory and on first line charge.

Senate Suspends Ningi For 3 Months Over Budget Padding Allegation
Senator Adeola

The lawmaker mentioned the agencies to include: the judiciary, the National Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Universal Basic Education (UBEC), TETFund (recurrent and capital), North East Development Commission (NEDC), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Government Owned Enterprise (GOE whose expenditure stood at N1 trillion and 60 billion naira). “Their details are not contained in these documents and when you add all of them together, it gives you N3.221 trillion and when you add it to the N25.4 trillion, it gives you N28.77 trillion,” Senator Adeola explained.

He further disclosed that it was not a new thing to have details of the budgets for those agencies to be excluded from the general appropriation document, citing that “in 2021, 2022, and 2023 budgets, all the details of these agencies that I have mentioned are not contained in these documents.”

“So, for my brother who has put a consultant to look into this budget, and has reported that N25 trillion was approved by the Senate, is not being fair to the Senate,” he added.

Prime Business Africa understands that prior to granting the controversial interview to BBC Hausa Service, Ningi and some other northern senators were said to have met with the Senate president, to express their concerns about issues they found in the budget and he was told to furnish him with the documents for a necessary action to be taken.

Senator queried why Ningi, who is the chairman of the Northern Senators Forum did not abide by the agreement and went ahead to grant the interview where he made spurious claims about the 2024 budget.

He subsequently prayed the Senate to take necessary action to address the matter to save the integrity of the 2024 national budget and that of the parliament.

The motion was seconded by Senator Joel-Onowakpo Thomas representing Delta South. He said the comment by Senator Ningi was an attempt to incite the National Assembly and the Federal Government.

Other Senators took turns to make contributions to the motion.

 

I Never Said 2024 Budget Was Padded – Senator Ningi

Senate Suspends Ningi For 3 Months Over Budget Padding Allegation
Senator Abdul Ningi

Responding, Senator Abdul Ningi, denied saying the 2024 budget was padded.

Ningi said he was misquoted by those who interpreted the Hausa audio version of the interview.

He also denied saying the Senate passed a budget of N25 trillion, stating that what he said was that N28 trillion was passed but a consultant they hired discovered that over N3 trillion was not tied to any specific project in the budget.

Senate Minority Leader, Abba Moro, said that during the consideration of the budget proposal, every senator spoke.

He said that after the meeting with Senate President concerning the issue raised by some northern senators including Ningi earlier, going to press without furnishing the senate president the report of what was found was in aberration even when they agreed that none of them should do so.

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim representing Ondo South moved another motion for  Senator Ningi to be suspended from every legislative activity for one year.

While some senators advocated that the suspension period for Ningi be reduced to six months, others called for it to be three months.

After listening to the senators’ contributions, the Senate President called for a voice vote and a majority said he should suspended for three months with all financial privileges withdrawn.

 

Victor Ezeja is a passionate journalist with six years of experience writing on economy, politics and energy. He holds a Masters degree in Mass Communication.


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