March 12, 2024

Budget padding: If you don’t fear suspension, fear God, Sen Karimi replies Ningi

Interests of the masses must remain sacrosanct, Ningi warns public office holders

Abdul Ningi

…queries source of N3million paid to consultants

…says N3tr belong to agencies on first line charge

John Alechenu, Abuja

A prominent member of the Northern Senators Forum, Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi West), has challenged the Chairman of the Forum, Senator Abdul Ningi, to come clean about allegations that the 2024 budget has an unexplained N3tr component.

Karimi said this in an interview with Vanguard, in Abuja, on Monday.

He explained that Ningi was being economical with the truth when he claimed that he spoke in his personal capacity in the controversial Interview he granted the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Karimi said, “I’m a member of the Northern Senators Forum. The first question I want to ask our chairman is, where did the N3million he paid the consultants on behalf of the forum come from?

“We were with him when he took the report from the consultants to see the Senate President. If not for mischief, why did he rush to the press?

“After our meeting with the Senate President, the Senate President asked that the report be made available and that the Senate will set up a committee to review it. Till this hour, the report has not been presented.

“I heared he said he was not afraid of suspension, I agree but I urge him to fear God who is the ultimate judge.

“He has been In the National Assembly for 20 years and has held leadership positions in both the Senate and House of Representatives, he can’t claim not to know that there are arms of Government and agencies that are on first line charge and the funds he is trying to query are funds that fall under this category.

“ We must fear God In all our dealings as human beings because we will account for our deeds in the hereafter. We can’t be crying wolf where there is none.

Earlier, Seven members of the forum in a joint statement for an on behalf of the forum, disowned Ningi.

In a statement signed by Senators Iyal Abbas (Adamawa), Ibrahim Bomoi (Yobe), Abdullahi Yar’ Adua and four others across the three Senatorial zones which make up the north, said views expressed by Ningi did not represent that of the forum.

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The statement read, “We, the undersigned on behalf of the Senators from the 19 Northern States and the FCT, under the aegis of Northern Senators Forum (NSF), hereby state that Senator Ahmed Abdul Ningi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bauchi Central Senatorial District, who also happens to be the chairman of our forum, was on his own in the claims he made on the BBC Hausa Service on the 2024 budget.  As such, the view he expressed was his personal opinion, sentiment and unfortunately skewed, incorrect and misleading.

“That there was never a time where we held a meeting and mandated Senator Ningi to address the press on the said matter.

“ That the budget was presented to the National Assembly during a joint session of the two chambers – Senate and House of Representatives – by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on November 29, 2023, in line with the requirement of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That both chambers of the National Assembly diligently and meticulously debated, processed and passed the proposal of the President. And satisfied with it, the President assented to it.

“It is clear that Mr President presented a budget of N27. 5 trillion to the National Assembly and the Assembly passed a budget of N28.7 trillion based on the need to make increases or decreases in the appropriations of the various MDAs which is in tandem with the legislative powers of the National Assembly in order to address critical projects and services across various sectors.

“Therefore, the statement made by Senator Ningi that the 2024 budget presented to the National Assembly by Mr President was the sum of N25 trillion was not correct and that should not be taken as the position of the Northern Senators Forum.

“That 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.

“Hence, we strongly and collectively dissociate ourselves from his action which was grossly unparliamentary.

“That, we, the Northern Senators are solidly behind President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and we will continue to support him to succeed in addressing the challenges facing our country.

“Nigeria, at this particular moment does not need ethnic sentiments but collaborations of all to bring prosperity to our beloved  country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We will continue to work with our brothers and sisters from the southern part of the country to move our country forward for the benefit of all and sundry.”

Vanguard Newspaper