March 16, 2024

ACF laments Ningi’s suspension, demands open debates on issues

Ningi resumes, says let's move on

File: Senator Abdul Ningi

By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo 

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said that it watched with keen interest the series of rather dramatic events, in the Nigerian 10th Senate, which culminated in the suspension of Distinguished Senator Abdul Ningi from the Red Chamber for a period of three months.

In a statement signed by the ACF National Publicity Secretary, Prof.Tukur Muhammad-Baba, ACF explained that Senator Ningi represents Bauchi Central in the 10th Senate and had served as leader of the Northern Caucus of Senators in the Senate until his resignation from same position in the wake of the saga. 

According to the statement,”ACF acknowledges the 10th Senate’s constitutional privilege to determine how it operates or conduct its affairs. 

However, ACF expects that exercise of the privilege will always be hinged in so doing the Senate be strictly and transparently on relevant and necessary provisions in the Constitution relating to the principles of due process and fair hearing. This is critical for a body empowered to make laws for the country and to exercise oversight functions over the operations of the executive arm of Government.

ACF notes that the whole saga hinged on the rather weighty allegation by weighty allegation earlier made by Senator Ningi, euphemistically called “budget padding”. 

“Senator Ningi, and we must say others, had alleged that as much as the sum of N3.7 trillion is not rather egregiously attached to any specific project as it ought to, under the 2024 budget of the Federation passed for implementation,” ACF said.

“ACF does not wish to engage in debate with the Senate. Still, on the whole, the process appeared nimbly rushed, with concerns looking more on the messenger rather than his message,” the statement continued.

“ACF notes that the allegation has since been denied by the 10th Senate as lacking in veracity. However, the interests of many communities in Northern Nigeria are at stake. Rather than the route of a rushed suspension of Senator Ningi, ACF prefers a thorough investigation of the allegation by some statutory or ad hoc committee of the Senate. 

“As things stand, in the eyes of the general public, the allegation of padding as well as those related to the inclusion of curious items that benefit specific communities of some Senators as “constituency projects”, stand unaddressed with all attendant negative implications for the Red Chamber and, vicariously, the Executive, regrettably, unfortunately and avoidably so for Nigeria’s nascent democracy. 

“ACF regrets that Bauchi Central will be without representation in the 10th Senate for the 3 months, and stands with Senator Ningi and his supporters in whatever constitutional means they seek to respond for a satisfactory denouement to this sad development.”

ACF also calls on the 10th Senate to act with more circumspection and sensitivity in processing criticism of its operations. Robust debates on public policy issues undoubtedly strengthens development of the democratic project,” the Forum added.