• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

I’m not afraid of Senate suspension over my statement – Ningi

Who is Abdul Ningi, the suspended Bauchi senator?

…insists over N3trn is not traced to any project

…Ningi may face criminal misinformation charges – Senate

Abdul Ningi, the Senator representing Bauchi Central, has insisted on his allegations that the 2024 budget is padded by over N3 trillion, which he said, is not being traced to any project.

Ningi earlier made this allegation during an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation about a week ago, which has since generated controversy.

The lawmaker reportedly alleged that the Government approved two budgets – N25 trillion approved by the National Assembly and N28 trillion being operated by the Presidency. He reportedly said the budget was also skewed against the North.

However, Ningi, while addressing the Senate Correspondents on Monday, denied stating that the Federal Government is operating two budgets, noting that his Hausa interview with BBC was translated in error to tarnish his image.

He also said his comments were his personal views and not as Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum. The embattled lawmaker, however, maintained that over N3 trillion in the 2024 budget was not tied to any project.

” I didn’t speak for the Northern Senators forum. The interview I had was in my capacity as a Senator and an opposition Senator. At no time did I say that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is implementing two budgets. There was no time that I said Bola Tinubu was biased against the North The Hausa version is there. At no time did I say Bola Tinubu is implementing the N25 trillion budget.

“I was speaking on the state of the nation. The first example I made was Former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s failure to dredge the River Niger. I also mentioned former President Buhari for his failure to do anything on Ajaokuta, and Mambilla projects. I said I don’t blame Tinubu for doing what he is doing because while he was campaigning, northern leaders, particularly from his party had not extracted commitment to what he would do for the North if he won. I said that.”

“In the course of perusing the budget, We have established beyond a reasonable doubt, that about N25 trillion so far has nexus in the budget; that means there is money and then there are projects and there is location. But we are yet to ascertain N3 trillion of that budget. We have established the N3 trillion in the budget, but we have not established its location and place. Like I said going forward the budget evaluation is ongoing”, he stated.

Ningi reiterated the intention of the Northern Senators Forum to meet with Godswill Akpabio, the Senate President and subsequently President Bola Tinubu to present the findings of the budget scrutiny, and wondered why the move is being questioned.

The lawmaker, also maintained that things have gotten worse under President Tinubu. “I also said that President Tinubu, before he came to power does not understand the very difficulty in running a very complex country like ours”, he said.

Speaking further, the lawmaker said he is ready to face any consequence for his comments including a possible suspension from the Senate.

“If it is a cross I have to carry, I will carry it. I am not afraid of anything. I believe in one God, I believe what we are doing is temporary. I am not scared of anything like suspension. I have been out of the Senate for ages and people have forced me back. Some of my friends were removed by the Tribunal and are living their lives. If because of what I said I will be suspended, so be it. It will be an honour. For me to be suspended by whatever body for speaking as a parliamentarian will be a very big honour”, Ningi said.

Meanwhile, Jimoh Ibrahim, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs and a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, has vowed that Abdul Ningi, the Senator representing Bauchi Central must be prosecuted for his allegations on the 2024 budget.

The lawmaker asked the Federal Government to charge Ningi to court for criminal misinformation and conduct for alleging that the National Assembly approved two budgets.

He called on the Inspector General of Police to as a matter of urgency charge Ningi for criminal misinformation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

The Lawmaker, who represents Ondo South, said if the Senate did not take the above actions against Ningi, within the next seven days, he would ask for an order of mandamus to compel a public officer to do so.

He said the charges must be preferred by the criminal justice department for the Government and after a through investigation.

He described Ningi’s comment on the 2024 budget as very embarrassing, adding that the 10th Senate will not just fold its hands and watch.

He debunked the claims by Ningi that the Senate approved two budgets. “We never approved two budgets The Presidency of Nigeria cannot operate two budgets”, he stressed.

Ibrahim, said this while addressing Senate correspondents on Monday, shortly after Ningi’s briefing where he also denied stating that the federal government is operating two budgets.

“Senator Ningi made this false information and its unacceptable, its causing uncomfortable pains to our integrity, and integrity of our children and family as people read it all over the world.

“It is very important, as a matter of urgency for the federal government to charge Senator Ningi to court for criminal misinformation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

“If the Senate will not move to do that in 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 appropriation and culprits 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”, he said.

Ibrahim faulted Ningi for taking the 2024 budget allegation to the Senate President. According to him, the rightful things was to tender apoloy to the Senate and his colleagues and not go to Senate preseidnt to complain.

He also dismissed the claim by Ningi that his interview was quoted out of context, stating that, “Hausa language is a vast and clear language.”

“Dont hide under that, the most clear language in Nigeria is Hausa”, Ibrahim tackled Ningi, while lamenting that Ningi’s action is frustrating his career.