Northern Senators Allege N3trn 2024 Budget Padding

  • To meet President Tinubu over concerns

BY SEGUN ADEBAYO – The Northern Senators Forum (NSF) has raised an alarm that a whopping N3 trillion may have allegedly found its way into the 2024 budget being implemented by President Bola Tinubu.

Consequently, the Forum has resolved to meet with the President and effectively iron out all areas of their concerns in relation to the Appropriation Act

The Forum Chairman, Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made the allegation during an interview with the BBC Hausa Service.

According to him, the Senate debated and passed as budget for 2024 the sum of N25 trillion and not the N28 trillion that President Tinubu is currently implementing

Ningi said the Forum is ready to probe the “added sum of N3 trillion” and other inclusions in the budget that were not known to the Senate, even as he expressed surprise that there was another budget “done underground” which the Senators did not know.

The lawmaker disclosed that the Forum had engaged consultants, for the past three months, to review the budget and work on it line by line, noting that “huge damage” has been done to the North and the entire country in the padded budget.

Further alleging that the Senate was unaware of the N3 trillion added to N25 trillion, Senator Ningi said the Forum would come up with a report and engage Senate President Godswill Akpabio and President Tinubu on all the contentious issues.

Speaking specifically, the lawmaker said; “This is true. For the past three months, we have engaged consultants to review the budget for us. We have some experts that are working on it line by line.

“We have seen the huge damage that was done not only to the North, but the entire country in that budget. We are supposed to sit with the Senate president to inform him about what we have observed.

“We want to show him what we have seen in the budget that is not acceptable. We will not accept them and we don’t want the country to continue spending money on those things.

“Apart from what the National Assembly did on the floor, there was another budget that was done underground which we didn’t know. The new things we have discovered in the budget were not known to us. We haven’t seen them in the budget that was debated and considered on the floor of the National Assembly.

“For example, it was said that there was a budget of N28 trillion, but what was passed was N25 trillion. So, there is N3 trillion on top. Where are they? Where is it going? So, we need to know this.

“There are a lot of things. We are coming up with a report and we will show the president himself and ask him if he is aware or not. This is what we intended to do. We are to meet the president,” he said.

Also hinting that the forum intends to raise issues around the Mambilla Power Project, Ajaokuta Steel Company and the River Niger dredging with President, Senator Ningi added; “We will also talk to him about the Niger Republic. Recently, they said they would construct a dam, this is not good for us”.

While accusing the Tinubu-led administration of not living up to the expectations of the North, the lawmaker said; “The most painful thing is that northerners stood for him and did all they could to bring him to power, but unfortunately, there was no agreement between them and the president on what should be done to the North and the northerners.

“Especially taking into consideration the importance and significant projects that the North has been yearning and aspiring to get for a long time. For example, the Ajaokuta project, the Mambilla power project, the dredging of river Niger and other notable projects.”

Lamenting the pathetic situation of things concerning these projects, Senator Ningi said; “What mostly disturbs my sleep is that we had a budget in 2013 and 2014 in which we earmarked billions of Naira, but it was neglected by President Goodluck Jonathan.

“When President Buhari came, we thought it was one of the projects he would pay attention to, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for over eight years”.

Senate Spokesman, Adaramodu Debunks Claims

Amid the NSF’s claims, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Yemi Adaramodu has dismissed the allegations by Ningi as baseless.

Reacting to issues raised by the NSF’s Chairman, Adaramodu said; “The National budget is a public document which expressly states the expected revenue and the expenditure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The Senate, under the leadership of Senator Godswill Akpabio, is not aware of any varied execution of the 2024 appropriation mandate, as approved.

“The budget presentation and approval processes were made in the public glare, while the presidential assent was also in a public ceremony.”

Urging the public to ignore the budget padding story with assurances that the Red Chamber would ensure the 2024 appropriation law is executed under strict legislative oversight, Senator Adaramodu said; “Any infractions would have been brought before the Senate, if any.”

Recalled that on November 29, 2023, President Tinubu presented N27.5 trillion budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly. Thereafter, the Senate passed N28,777,404,073,861 budget after increasing it by N1.2 trillion.

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