Legal Nigeria

Padding claim: Senators put Ningi under fire

Controversy over the allegation of budget padding against the Presidency and Senate President Godswill Akpabio by Senator Abdul Ningi is still raging in the Senate.

Although Ningi denied making the claim in his interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Hausa Service, his colleagues in the Northern Senators’ Forum (NSF), have disowned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from Bauchi Central District.

Ningi had claimed in the interview that the Northern Senators’ Forum had uncovered lopsidedness and padding of the 2024 budget to the tune of N3trillion.

He also said the Forum would soon confront Senate President Godswill Akpabio with the findings of consultants it engaged to scrutinize the budget and meet the President on the issues.

At a news conference in Abuja, Ningi, who chairs the NSF, insisted that N3.7 trillion was loafing, saying the funds were not accompanied by any proposed project.

Frowning at Ningi’s outburst, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (Ondo South) called for the arrest and prosecution of Ningi for giving false information.

The Senate may be in for a stormy plenary today as senators meet to take a position on the allegations.

On likely slap of sanctions on him for his claims by the Senate, Ningi he is not afraid of suspension.

But, he denied saying that President Bola Tinubu was operating two separate 2024 budgets.

Ningi told reporters that the views he expressed during his weekend interview aired on BBC were his personal opinion and not those of the NSF.

The senator explained that his interview was misrepresented, stressing that he granted it in Hausa and not English.

He said: “First and foremost, I’m not representing the Northern Senators’ Forum. The interview I had was in my capacity as a senator and as an opposition senator. It has no bearing at all on the northern senators’ position on any matter. Anything that you heard in my Hausa interview had to do with my personal perspective.

“Yesterday, I was confronted by a very harsh press release from an individual whom I have followed personally as a journalist to close to 30 years.

“I have been following Bayo Onanuga’s writeup for close to 30 years and I have no doubt Bayo was one of my very best.

“I was really surprised, the Bayo I know could come out with a press release against my person without even understanding the subject matter.

“First and foremost, I never granted my interview in English. The Hausa version of the interview is with me. Unfortunately, those who carried the story to Bayo did it with the sole aim of tarnishing my good name and Bayo went to the extent of calling me a liar.”

Ningi added: “I’m not going  to join issues with him on the aspect of calling me a liar. Bayo did not listen to my Hausa interview. Bayo did not get a good translation of my Hausa interview.

“At no time did I say Bola Ahmed Tinubu is implementing two budgets. At no time did I say Bola Tinubu was biased against the North. The Hausa version is there. At no time did I say Bola Ahmed Tinubu is implementing N25 trillion budget.

Source:The nation