Budget Padding: Senate suspends Ningi for 3 months

Sharon EboesomiMarch 12, 202412 min

Ningi had earlier mentioned that he is not moved by a possible suspension. According to him, it will be an honour.

The Senate has voted in favour of a three (3) months suspension of Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) over his allegations of N3trn padding in the 2024 budget.

It maintained that should Ningi tender an apology and show some remorse, the matter will be deliberated within the Senate and he will be called to return.

This followed a motion raised by Senator Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West) on an urgent need to address the false allegation by Ningi.

Olamilekan, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation read a transcribed version of Senator Ningi’s BBC Hausa Interview.

He disclosed that some agencies were not documented in the 2024 budget document. According to him, these  agencies include the Judiciary, National Assembly,  INEC, TETFUND, North East development Commission (NEDC), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Government Owned Enterprise (GOE).

He also stressed that Ningi’s claim was a breach on his privilege. 

According to Olamilekan, others had gone ahead to post on social media a transcription of Ningi’s interview, calming that he said that the government was operating on two different budgets.

OrderPaper recalls that senators began to go against each other following allegations of a N3 trillion padding to the 2024 budget.

Senator Ningi made claims that the 2024 budget was padded with the sum of N3.7 trn. However, following these allegations, several Senators came out to deny these claims.

Responding to the backlash from his colleagues, Ningi who is the chairman of the Northern Senators Forum said he is not afraid of whatever the consequences might be for his actions, including a possible suspension.

Also, the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) on behalf of the Senators from the 19 Northern States and the FCT has refuted claims made by Ningi, distancing themselves from his recent assertions of 2024 budget padding. 

READ ALSO: Budget Padding: “I am not afraid of suspension” – Senator Ningi defies Senate 

Following the presentation of the motion, the Senate resolved into the Committee of the Whole to debate on the issues.

Contributing to the motion, Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) pleaded for the Senate to pardon Ningi and allow him to explain himself.

At this point, Ningi was seen carrying a bunch of heavy documents, dropping them on his table and shouting “give me the opportunity to defend myself.”

Responding to this, Akpabio cut them short saying, ”We give you respect as a ranking Senator, but if you stop talking and allow Senator Ningi to jump up and start talking, we won’t allow that. This is not BBC Hausa.”

However, Ningi was eventually allowed to speak. In his defence, he clarified that he had never asserted that the country was operating on two budgets, stressing that it was a false allegation.

I think Yayi (Solomon Olamilekan) has done a fair job except on some issues that they do not understand. I have never said the budget was padded.

“I have never issued any of these statements. This is a fake contribution that was forwarded, I do not know the author of this.

“In this budget, Yayi presented to you, I have facts constituency by constituency, some 12bn, some 60bn, some 30bn some have less than 1 billion.

“As I am talking to you Mr President, I do not know your take-home pay, I don’t know how much you are spending on your cars and other principal officers.

“I have targets just like every other member, I do not know your aides or their numbers, everything in the budget is my concern.”

On his part, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio said Ningi had approached him, saying that he had paid his consultant N30 million to conduct the investigation.

He said, “Ningi called some of us for a meeting. When he told me this, I told him I would like to see the details. The South East 3.9%, South South has 2.2 %. Senator Ndume was not only there he also spoke. I told him when the full details of the findings are ready, I would like to see it.

“I didn’t receive it, but you had the opportunity to attend a BBC interview. It’s only you that has the document you have. I don’t have it.

“I want Nigerians to know that what President Bola Tinubu presented to the National Assembly was N27.5 trillion, at no time did the President present 25 trillion.

“This is not the speech I expected, I expected a speech of someone saying that he was misquoted, or apologise.

“The integrity of this Chamber has been totally damaged,” he maintained.

Speaking also was Senator Joel Onowakpa (APC, Delta South) who called on the Senate to take immediate action on the allegations.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) said, “What Abdul Ningi wanted to do was tantamount to a civilian coup.

“It is always about Akpabio, never about the House of Rep or the President. It is not about North and South, it is about our rules. 

“I am speaking as Bamidele, not as a Senate Leader

“The last time a south-south person was ever given the opportunity to become president was over 40 years ago. We have another peaceful Senate, but why is it always about Akpabio?

“We must do this right, he said some of us got N100bn, why do we need an apology?

“If I got anything here it is not money put in my picket, they are for constituency projects. Let us do the right thing.”

Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) however, expressed disappointment over the actions of Ningi and Kawu saying, “Any discovery that I have not seen, to me it is not a discovery. 

“I am not one person that does anything on eye service. Distinguished Senator Ningi and Kawu, I am not a second-class northerner. If there is anything that happens in the Northern Senators Forum, they do not inform me. If anybody says he has seen anything, provide the evidence. But when I saw the post from Senator Sumaila Kawu, I was disappointed. We will deal with the budget, but we have to also deal with our ethical standards in this Senate.”

A few other Senators including Senator Abba Moro (Senate Minority Leader) called on Ningi to tender an unreserved apology for his allegations.

Akpabio however called on Senator Sumaila Kawu (NNPP, Kano South) to give his side of the story and tell why he made a post on his social media, claiming that Nigeria is operating on the highest level of a padded budget on the history of its existence.

Akpabio said, “You posted this on your social media, tell us if it was hacked.”

In his response, Kawu said, “I remember we agreed we would not grant an interview on this issue until it is resolved. From that time up till today, there was no time I granted any interview. I realised Senator Ningi granted an interview despite our agreement not to speak to the press.

“I posted this interview on our Nothern Senators Forum and it was for our consumption alone. Nobody hacked my account. I am not in agreement with what Olamilekan said, it is a total lie. 

“With due respect to our colleagues, we do not intend to undermine the Senate. We understand our constitutional role, and one of them is oversight. With due respect to our colleagues, how many of us have the time to go through this budget?

“I have 36 items ranging to 47 billion naira with no location.”

Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) said, “It is not about Ningi now only, it is about all of us outside.

“It has happened,  Ningi was wrong. After presented from the budget, there were allegations from the Northern Senators including Senator Aliyu Wadada that it was skewed. I told them it was wrong and it died down.

“I have told Ningi to apologise. Let us go and tell everyone and tell them that N3trn is not missing. He is ready to apologise.”

Following the series of debates and contributions Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (APC, Ondo South) called for a suspension of Senator Ningi for an initial period of 12 months including his entitlements and privileges and ensure he doesn’t get into the National Assembly premises for the period of his suspension.

He also urged the Senate to send a warning letter to Kawu and ensure he apologises to the Senate.

He said, “Everything can go wrong but one thing cannot go wrong and that is the law.

“We are sitting here today to make regulations to ensure the executive of the Federal government is not in doubt.

Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong (APC, Cross River South) pleaded that the suspension be reduced to 6months. This was seconded by Barinada Mpigi (PDP, Rivers South-East).

On his part, Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (APC, Oyo North) says it should be reduced to 3 months while Senator Garba Musa Maidoki (PDP, Kebbi South) said Ningi should be suspended for 3 months but if he tenders an apology the following day, he should be recalled immediately. This was seconded by Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) and voted by the majority.

Sharon Eboesomi

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