• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Senate denies padding 2024 budget by over N3tn

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The Nigerian Senate has denied padding the 2024 budget by over ₦3 trillion.

The upper chamber stated this after Abdul Ningi, a senator representing Bauchi Central, and chairman Northern Senators Forum told the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday that the 2024 budget was padded.

The Senate in December 2023, passed the 2024 Appropriation bill totalling N28.77 trillion, as against the N27. 5 trillion estimate presented by President Bola Tinubu. The budget which was raised by N1.2 trillion, was signed into law by the President on January 1, 2024.

However, Ningi claimed that what was approved by the National Assembly was N25 trillion, but what is being operated by the President is N28 trillion.

“For example, it was said that there was a budget of N28 trillion but what was passed was N25 trillion. So there is N3 trillion on top. Where are they, where is it going? So, we need to know this. There are a lot of things. We are coming up with a report and we will show the president himself and ask him if he is aware or not”, he said.

“The new things we have discovered in the budget were not known to us. We haven’t seen them in the budget that was debated and considered on the floor of the National Assembly”, Ningi added.

The lawmaker also alleged that apart from what the National Assembly did on the floor, there was another budget that was done underground which northern Senators didn’t know about, noting that the forum is currently reviewing the budget through consultants and will meet President Bola Tinubu on its findings.

But Yemi Adaramodu, Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Publicity reacting, said the Senate under the leadership of Godswill Akpabio is not aware of any varied execution of the 2024 appropriation mandate, as approved.

“There is no budget padding as far as the Senate and the National Assembly are concerned. The National budget is a public document, which expressly stated the expected revenue and the expenditure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The budget presentation and approval processes were made in the public glare, while the Presidential ascent was also in a public ceremony.

“Any infractions would have been brought before the Senate, if any. The general public should be at rest that there is no budget padding anywhere and we are confident that the 2024 appropriation law shall be strictly executed, under strict legislative oversight”, he said.

Beyond budgetary matters, Ningi again decried that the budget was skewed against the north, and criticized President Tinubu’s leadership, claiming that the country’s difficulties has gotten worse under his tenure.

Citing unfulfilled promises and neglect of vital projects such as the Ajaokuta and Mambila power projects, the senator voiced disappointment in the administration’s handling of critical infrastructure.

“The most painful thing is that Northerners stood for him and did all they could to bring him to power, but unfortunately, there was no agreement between them and the president on what should be done to the North and the Northerners,” Ningi said.

The Lawmaker also highlighted the challenges faced by the opposition in the North, alleging that religious and tribal considerations prevented Northerners from assuming leadership roles within the opposition.