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Budget padding: I warned Ningi but he didn’t listen – Ndume

The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, has said that he warned Senator Abdul Ningi on the allegation that the 2024 budget was padded by over N3 trillion, but the lawmaker refused to heed his warning.

Ningi, who represents Bauchi Central at the Senate, was on Tuesday suspended for three months by the Senate for his claim which the senators said was false.

Ndume, who was on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, said the suspended Bauchi senator was wrong with his claim.

“I sat next to the Senate Leader (Opeyemi Bamidele), he was very angry about what Ningi did, but honestly me too. What he (Ningi) did was wrong because I was involved,” Ndume said.

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“In the first instance, it started when they said capital project was skewed to the South. The total in that budget that was brought before us by the President was not up to N9 trillion, it was N8.9trn and they are talking of skewed capital project to the South and the total adding up to N15 trillion.

“That N15 trillion is strange, even with the amendment that we made, the capital component of this budget is not up to that.

“I told him he was wrong. I had even warned him when he brought the issue to me. I had told him to get a consultant to analyze the budget. But he refused to listen to me.”

Ndume said Ningi was trying to make 2024 project an ethnic and political issue, which according to him is wrong.

The Senate Chief Whip said that when Ningi first presented the case to him, he told him to provide evidence which he could not.

He insisted that as a senior member of the Senate, he can attest to the fact that the North was not shortchanged by the South in the budget as claimed by Ningi.

Ningi had in an interview reportedly claimed that the Federal Government was operating two versions of the 2024 budget and that the N28.7 trillion Budget passed and signed into law by President Bola Tinubu was skewed against the North.

Many Senators and the Presidency had berated him, describing his claims as far-fetched and unbecoming of a leader of his status.

The Bauchi Senator would later deny saying that the country was operating two budgets but insisted that only N25trn of the budget was tied to projects while N3.7trn had no project tied to it.

Before eventually getting suspended on Tuesday, Ningi had on Monday said he was ready to carry his cross, even if it means suspension from the upper legislative chamber.

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