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

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

Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP Bauchi Central) has said his position remains steadfast that parts of Nigeria’s 2024 budget were illegally inserted, saying the presidency’s reply to his initial allegations was misguided.

But Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (APC Ondo South) called on the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to arrest Ningi.

Ningi had on Monday indicted the National Assembly for padding the 2024 budget with a whooping sum of N3tn, and by Tuesday, the presidency had replied him in a statement, though Nigerians have expressed shock at the motive behind the presidency’s quick response while the National Assembly – which was indicted – had not responded.

The Ningi exchange appears to be taking the shape of that of former House of Reps member, Muhamed Gudaji Kazaure, who throughut 2022 kept alleging that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under Godwin Emefiele was siphoning huge amounts of money into private pockets.

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

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari kept insinuating that Kazure was only being a nuisance. No one paid attention to him until the end of that government.

But Kazure has been vindicated. The government of President Tinubu, which succeeded that of Buhari, has filed criminal charges against Emefile, alleging that he supretended over the stealing of trillions of naira of public money.

Muhammed Gudaji Kazaure, Senator Abdul Ningi, Budget padding, Underground budget, Corruption, Nigeria
Muhammed Gudaji Kazaure was a lone voice at the National Assembly barely a year ago, and has now been vindicated.

The presidency under Tinubu was quick to respond to Ningi, saying the president was not running two budgets, but the senator clarified on Monday that he never at any point accused President Tinubu of running two different budgets or that the National Assembly passed N25trillion budget while the presidency was running N28.7trillion.

He was also not given the chance to present a conprehensive reoport he promised to deliver to the president in which he said he would reveal what he found out.

Addressing journalists Monday in Abuja, Ningi said the N25trillion he mentioned in the BBC Hausa interview granted last week, was money traced to projects and locations out of the N28.7trillion passed by the National Assembly for 2024 fiscal year.

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

“What I said on the N28.7trillion 2024 budget in the State of the Nation Interview I granted the BBC Hausa Service last week, was that from thorough findings made by budget experts, a total of N25trillion are traceable to projects and locations, while N3.7trillion cannot be linked to any project or location.

“This was the context in which I mentioned N25trillion as against Bayo Onanuga and other people accusing me of saying that I said National Assembly passed N25trillion while the Presidency is operating N28.7trillion.

“Yes, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed N28.7trillion budget for 2024 fiscal year, which was N1.2trillion above the N27.5trillion proposed by President Tinubu. But, after forensic examination on monies earmarked for projects in the budget and locations, only N25trilliion can be accounted for.

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“It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that N25trillion so far has nexus in the budget. That means that there is money, there is project and then there is location.

“But we are yet to ascertain N3.7 trillion of that budget. The balance of N3.7trillion is there in the budget without projects or locations to trace it to.

“That was what I said and I stand by it and ready to carry my cross if the Senate wants to suspend me,” he clarified.

Threat of arrest

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim called on the IGP to arrest Ningi for criminal misinformation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace in the Senate and in Nigeria.

He said: “I have decided as a senator representing good people of Ondo South to ask the Inspector General of Police to as a matter of urgency, charge Ningi for criminal misinformation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

He said: “If the Senate will not move to do that within the next seven days, I will write a letter, and I have started that, to the IGP to investigate circumstances leading to approval of two appropriations and to bring culprit to book, and if the IGP will not do it, I will ask for the order of mandamus to compel a public officer to do that.”

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When informed that the embattled lawmaker had denied saying two different budgets were passed or being implemented, Ibrahim said Ningi must face the music because he went to the press and made similar complaint to Senate President Godswill Akpabio.

“If he is regretting his lies, he should come out openly to tender apology to the Senate and Nigerians. It’s too late for him to be twisting what he said under the guise of saying it in Hausa language.

“Hausa language is a vast clear language. He shouldn’t hide under it,” he added.

Personal cross

Senators from the Northern Nigeria have told Ningi to carry his cross, as they disowned him over the allegations he made.

That was the same way Kazure’s Northern colleagues at the House of Reps left him alone back then.

READ ALSO: President’s children should find jobs to do, stop hanging around presidential villa like invalids – Abati

In a statement signed by Senator Abbas Aminu Iya (PDP Adamawa Central) and six others, they said: “To the best of our knowledge, there was no budget padding, whatsoever that was done to the 2024 budget.

“The assertion by Senator Ningi that certain things were done to the bill is his personal opinion. It is not the view of the generality of us, the Northern Senators.”

Also, another northern lawmaker and chairman of the Senate Services Committee, Sunday Steve Karimi (APC Kogi West) told Ningi to at least fear God and say the truth, even as he is not afraid of suspension.

Karimi spoke Monday while reacting to the Bauchi lawmaker’s position on the controversy generated over the alleged budget padding.

While urging him to own up to his misinformation, Karimi said the Ningi, in the interview, spoke on behalf of the NSF and not in his individual capacity.

“I advise Senator Ningi to at least fear God if he is not afraid of suspension. He spoke for the NSF and not for himself even though nobody authorized him in the NSF to lie against the Senate,” said the Kogi lawmaker.

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Karimi maintained that Ningi was “up to mischief because when they met the Senate President Akpabio requested that they should bring the report so that he would set up a committee to find out if there was anything like that.

“We went to the Senate President as members of the NSF, but since he is on a mission of self-destruct, Senator Ningi decided to go to the media instead of bringing the report to the Senate President to set up a committee to authenticate the veracity of the claims.

“As a former principal officer both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, is Senator Ningi saying he is ignorant of the fact that arrangement of items on the first line charges are not usually lumped together with general items in the budget?

“I must say that Senator Ningi is just trying to engage in red-herring and sow the seed of institutional anarchy.

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“As a ranking lawmaker, he should know that organisation of first-line charge items is not lined up on the budget.

“A new legislator could have been forgiven for this invidious tar-brushing but a ranking senator cannot claim ignorance of the organization of budget items,” Karimi insisted.

Faruk Khalil
Faruk Khalilhttps://nigeriansketch.com/
Khalil Faruk (Deputy Editor-in-Chief), has a Bachelors and Master's degree in Political Science and has worked as a reporter, features editor and Deputy Editor-in-Chief respectively in a leading Nigerian daily. He has undergone trainings in journalism, photo journalism and online journalism within and outside Nigeria.

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