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N3trn Budget Padding: Confusion As More Allegations Rattle NASS, Ranking Senators Reportedly Smile Home With N500m

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The National Assembly (NASS) has been rattled by an allegation of padding the 2024 budget by over N3 trillion and an alleged N500 million awarded to high-ranking lawmakers.

As the upper legislative chamber deliberated on the N3 trillion alleged to be padded in the 2024 budget during plenary on Tuesday, Senator Jarigbe Agom-Jarigbe from Cross River North made a yet shocking revelation.

Senator Jarigbe said: “All of us are culpable. Some so-called Senior Senators here got N500 million each from the 2024 budget. I am a ranking Senator, I didn’t get anything. No Senator has a right to accuse Senator Ningi”.

Problem started after Senator Abdul Ningi granted the Hausa service of the BBC an interview where he was reported to have said President Bola Tinubu was operating two different budgets for 2024.

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It said Ningi had claimed that the NASS passed N25 trillion as 2024 budget and not the N28.7 trillion that was being implemented by the Federal Government.

According to Senate President Godswill Akpabio, Ningi paid a consultant N30 million to conduct an investigation that unravelled the N3 trillion budget padding.

“Ningi called some of us for a meeting. When he told me this, I told him I would like to see the details. But, I didn’t receive it,” Senator Akpabio said.

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However, the Northern Senators Forum that Ningi was reportedly speaking on its behalf quickly dissociated itself from the Bauchi Central Senator, saying there was never a time where they held a meeting and mandated Ningi to address the press on the said matter.

Speaking with newsmen, Senator Ningi himself denied saying President Tinubu was operating two different budgets for 2024.

Ningi was subsequently suspended for 3 months by the Senate, and he went on to resign as the Chairman of the Northern Senators Forum, citing unfolding events in the NASS.

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Meanwhile, the Senate had explained that the N3 trillion alleged to be padded in the 2024 budget was actually statutory transfers to first line charge agencies of government not domiciled in the ministries.

Chairman of Senate Committee on Media and Publicity Senator Yemi Adaramodu gave the explanation while also dismissing the issue of the award of N500 million to high-ranking Senators as a fairy tale.

Senator Adaramodu said the issue of budget padding was a negative connotation and a serious crime in budgeting, hence the Senate did not take it lightly.

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He also said the allegation that a section of the country was allocated more funds than other regions was not put in the right perspective, saying that allocations were done sectorally.

Remarking, Akpabio said “the integrity of this Chamber has been totally damaged” over the allegation by Ningi.

Meanwhile, the least is yet to be heard of the unrest in the NASS. President Tinubu had invited Akpabio for a meeting, the outcome of which is yet to be made public.

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(The NewsGuru)

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