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BUDGET PADDING: APC, PDP, others call for probe as northern senators disown Ningi

BUDGET PADDING: APC, PDP, others call for probe as northern senators disown Ningi

Some political parties in Nigeria on Monday called for a thorough probe into the allegation made by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Population, Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central), that N3.7tn was padded in the 2024 budget.

Some members of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) demanded for an investigation into the alleged padding of the 2024 budget.

PDP’s national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, told The PUNCH on Monday that the allegation required attention.

RELATED: Senator Ningi gets Gudaji Kazaure treatment, insists N3.7trn not traceable to projects

“I would like to receive detailed information to be able to respond appropriately. Having said that, if it’s true, any such issues require attention and should be addressed at the necessary level,” he stated.

On his part, NNPP’s national publicity secretary, Yakubu Shendam, urged President Tinubu to investigate what was happening.

He said, “Mr President should be able to sit down properly because this is his government for which he was given a mandate to lead. If he really wants to stamp out corruption, he should be able to look inside, meaning the people he’s operating with, to find out what is happening about this. Because at the end of the day, it is his government that will be blamed.’’

RELATED: Senator Ningi raises alarm over ‘underground budget’ passed by Nigeria’s National Assembly

The PRP acting national publicity secretary, Muhammed Ishaq, stated that if true, it represented gross misconduct and a blatant disregard for the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility that the nation deserves, especially during these trying times.

On his part, the chief spokesman of the Labour Party Campaign Organisation, Yunusa Tanko, said such an allegation was too weighty to be swept under the rug.

He said, “We support the probe. They have to give us an account of exactly how much is the budget and what the over N3trn is for. There should be a line-by-line examination of the budget as well as further confirmation of the figures as already given by each of the relevant ministries, agencies, and departments.

RELATED: Presidency counters Senator Ningi, denies ‘underground’ 2024 budget

“It is at that particular point in time we will know and ascertain whether the budget was padded or not. That way, we will also have a clearer understanding of what that particular N3tn is for and who will come out to make the claim. Once that is done, we will know who to hold responsible. But as it is now, both the Federal Government and National Assembly have to come clean as regards the issue of the padded budget.”

The deputy national organising secretary of the APC, Nze Chidi Duru, however, doubted that such a humongous amount could be inserted in such a budget without the knowledge of the two chambers, whose processes were known to be rigorous.

Duru nevertheless demanded that a thorough investigation be carried out to verify the authenticity of the allegation.

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The former lawmaker also expressed conviction that if Ningi was found to be gaslighting or raising an unfounded claim, he was certain that necessary sanctions would be meted out on him.

“We are not in the Senate and there is no way one will know the internal workings of the 10th National Assembly. But we know once a budget is passed, there are ways by which it will be harmonised. One will find it strange, to say the least, that such an addition outside of what has been agreed intra-chambers in a bid to have a harmonised budget, can be unilaterally inflated by one person or chamber. It will be one of the eight wonders of the world for them to consider that.

“But assuming without conceding that it was unimaginably possible, that calls for the highest level of investigation. However, I think it is too difficult to believe such a thing can happen in a chamber that is regulated and follows due process in passing the budget.’’

While the parties called for a probe into the allegation, northern senators dissociated themselves from the claims made by Ningi, saying the Bauchi State senator did not speak for them.

READ ALSO: NIGERIA: Yadudu faults parliamentary system of government, says recent clamour driven by nostalgia, not reality

Ningi however maintained his position on Monday that N3.7tn could not be accounted for in the 2024 budget.

This came as Senator Jimoh Ibrahim called for the arrest of Ningi, on the grounds that the lawmaker was attempting to breach the peace at the National Assembly, among other concerns.


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