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Budget padding: Senators Ningi, Sumaila, scandalised the whole nation — Karimi

The suspended Senator Abdul Ningi and Senator Kawu Sumaila have been alleged to have scandalized the whole nation by their claim on N3.7 trillion 2024 budget padding.

 

Chairman of Senate Services in the National Assembly, Senator Sunday Karimi who so alleged, revealed that Ningi did not show the senate any report concerning his claim on N3.7 trillion 2024 budget padding.

Senator Karimi, a member of Northern Senators’ Forum in an interview disclosed that only Senator Ningi and Senator Kawu Sumaila knew about the claim.

While narrating how the controversy began, Senator Karimi said “It started during the supplementary budget of 2023.

“There was this rumour all over the place that the Northern part of the country was not treated well in the allocation of resources. A lot of media reports were out there. They held meetings, yet no evidence to justify this claim. So, during the 2024 appropriations, they also came up with the same allegation that they were going to study whether Northern states were fairly treated.

“Before we knew it, they said they engaged consultants to study the 2024 Appropriation Act. The consultants they engaged; we did not know them. They said they engaged consultants for N30 Million.

“There was a day they came up with a report where about 11 members of the forum were in attendance. I wasn’t there. Out of the total of 109 senators, 58 are from the North, three from each of the 19 Northern states and one from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). But 11 of the senators from the North attended that meeting. After that meeting, they sent a message to our WhatsApp group that they would be meeting the Senate President. I attended the meeting they held with the Senate President on Thursday, March 7.

“They came up with a report in an infographic format, showing the distribution of projects. I was so excited when I saw the graphical presentation. But I thought they were going to show us in that presentation that Northern states were treated badly. What I saw instead was that we were actually treated fairly in the distribution of projects.

“The zone that I saw with fewer projects was the South-South. But they came up with the allegation that though we passed a budget of N28.7tn, we were implementing N25tn as the real budget, that while the President (Bola Tinubu) was implementing a budget of N28.7tn, the actual budget passed was N25tn, and there was a difference of N3.7tn that had no location or place to account for it.

“When I heard this, I was really alarmed about how this was possible. The Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, listened to their presentation. The Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau Jibrin, was there. Akpabio asked the Vice-chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Ali Ndume, and a member of the forum to make a comment on the issue. Ndume said his own views. He also asked the Chairman, Committee on Finance, Senator Sani Musa, for his opinion. He too gave his views. We left that meeting with an agreement that they should produce the report by their consultants, since this was a grievous allegation. Mind you, the House of Representatives and the Budget Office also worked on the budget, not only the Senate.

“All these parties have to look at your report so that if there is anything wrong, it would be corrected immediately. They promised to come with the report of the findings. This did not happen.

“The next thing was they posted it on all our platforms, saying that the president was operating two budgets, both the one known to the public and the hidden one, and that N3.7tn could not be located. You could see the level of damage this did to the credibility of this nation.

On whether the report was brought before the NSF nor the leadership of the Senate, Senator Karimi said, “No! It wasn’t brought. We didn’t see any report. It’s only Senator Ningi and Senator Kawu Sumaila, who knew the consultants they engaged and knew the report; nobody else did.

“At the end of the day, without the report, the Senate President still called a meeting to say, look, this is the accusation by these people.

“He called the caucus and asked the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Adeola Olamilekan, to explain. The chairman told them that they didn’t know what they were doing, that what they gave to their consultants were just volumes I and II of the Appropriations Act, and that if you gave those volumes to anybody, they would only see N25tn there.

“However, those government bodies on First Line Charge like INEC, Judiciary, National Assembly, etc that draw their money directly from the federal government’s share of the Federation Account, would not be there. They only bring their summary on the final day of the appropriation; they will be added to get the total budget figure.

“So, with their level of experience, Ningi and Sumaila gave incomplete documents to consultants to produce that report and they accepted it? Something must be wrong. They scandalised the whole nation. And even when they proved to them that they were wrong, they still went about saying other things that were completely irrelevant to their original complaints.”

Recall, Ningi who was the Chairman, Northern Senators’ Forum before his resignation from the position had claimed that the presidency was working with a budget different from what was passed by lawmakers.

This claim has raised dust in the Senate which led to three months of suspension slammed on Senator Ningi.

 

 

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