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Alleged budget padding: Ningi failed to defend self – Arewa Initiative

The Arewa Initiative for the Defence and Promotion of Democracy (AIDPD) yesterday countered the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for faulting the three-month suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) over his allegation of N3.7 trillion budget padding. 

In a statement, AIDPD’s spokesperson, Tasiu Haruna, said the Senate, during last Tuesday’s plenary, gave Ningi the opportunity to defend himself on his allegations aired on the BBC Hausa Service that the 2024 budget was padded. 

“In the last two weeks, we’ve followed the allegation by Senator Abdul Ningi of Bauchi Central on the 2024 budget and the uproar trailing it.   

“As Nigerians and northern leaders, we were miffed and worried over the allegation that the budget was padded and skewed in favour of the southern part of the country to the tune of N3.7 trillion. 

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“On Tuesday, March 12, 2024, during the public and live investigative hearing of the Senate, we observed that Ningi, a ranking lawmaker, was acting a script. 

“His inability to counter the claims by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation that the money was budgetary provisions for the Independent National Electoral Commission, National Judicial Council, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, National Assembly, Public Complaints Commission, North East Development Commission and other government-owned enterprises, deflated his allegation and should have laid to rest the controversy. 

“The five key personalities in the budget process are the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, his House of Representatives counterpart and the vice chairmen of the appropriation committees of both chambers. 

“The minister, the chairman of the House committee and the vice chairman of the Senate committee are from the North; while the South has the chairman of the Senate and the vice chairman of the House. We expect the ACF to invite the three northerners to speak on the matter before jumping to a conclusion. 

“The minister, Atiku Bagudu, who is a northerner, faulted the allegation and described it as baseless and false, yet the ACF decided not to take his assertion, rather it backed Ningi,” he stated.

 

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