Senator’s Suspension Over Budget Padding Allegations May Be Reviewed, Says National Assembly Member”

A member of the National Assembly has disclosed that the three-month suspension imposed on Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central, over allegations of padding the 2024 budget by N3.7 trillion, may undergo a review process.

Last week, the Senate, led by Senate President Godswill Akpabio, suspended Ningi amidst the controversy surrounding the alleged budget padding. However, a source close to the Senate leadership revealed in an interview with Daily Trust that the accusation of budget padding was a scheme to tarnish Akpabio’s reputation and create a distraction.

The source emphasized that the issue leading to Ningi’s suspension is being resolved amicably, hinting at a possible reinstatement if Ningi publicly apologizes to the Senate. The source clarified that the N3.7 trillion in question represents the budget of government-owned enterprises (GOEs), which are typically defended separately due to their detailed nature not being included in the entire budget estimate.

The source stated, “I can assure you that there is no discord in the Senate. We are united. The accusation of budget padding is merely an attempt to smear the Senate under the leadership of Godswill Akpabio, who has shown remarkable commitment to addressing the country’s challenges through effective collaboration with the Executive, all while upholding the principle of separation of powers.”

Explaining further, the source said, “The N3.7 trillion mentioned is the budget of government-owned enterprises (GOEs), and they are expected to appear before the Senate to justify their budget allocations, as their details are not always included in the overall budget estimate. So, where does the allegation of budget padding stem from? The budget was prepared by the Executive, and the House of Representatives plays a more significant role in scrutinizing it. This allegation seems to arise from individuals who perhaps aspire to be Senate President instead of Senator Akpabio.”

The source also mentioned the allocation for Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs) for National Assembly members’ constituencies, clarifying that the funds are not directly disbursed to lawmakers but are designated for projects in their constituencies.

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