Budget padding row: Step aside now, PDP tells Akpabio

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  • I stand with Ningi, says Bauchi governor

The People’s Democratic Party has asked the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to step aside and allow for an independent investigation into the N3.7trn 2024 Budget padding allegation.

The lawmaker representing Bauchi Central, Abdul Ningi, has been suspended by the Senate for three months.

This decision followed approximately three hours of debate on Tuesday regarding his statements made in an interview where he claimed that the National Assembly inflated the 2024 budget to N28.7 trillion.

In the interview conducted on Saturday, Ningi asserted that while the budget passed by the National Assembly for the 2024 fiscal year is N25 trillion, the one being executed by the Presidency amounts to N28.7 trillion.

In response, the PDP, through a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Wednesday, expressed its support for the suspended Senator.

The party criticised the Senate leadership for suspending Ningi without conducting a thorough investigation into the matter of budget padding that he brought up.

The party stated that, “The People’s Democratic Party demands that the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, immediately step aside and allow for an independent investigation into the allegation that a staggering N3.7 trillion was discreetly inserted into the 2024 budget for alleged non-existent projects.

“The party also demands that Senator Akpabio immediately reports at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the pending case of alleged looting of N108 billion belonging to the people of Akwa Ibom State under his watch as Governor of the State.

“Furthermore, the Senate President should speak out on the reported N86bn contract scam in the Niger Delta Development Commission during his tenure as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.”

The PDP described Ningi’s suspension as a desperate move to suppress investigation, conceal, and sweep the facts under the carpet.

It added, “We ask, why did the APC leadership in the Senate not refer the matter to the appropriate Senate Standing Committee for an open investigation in line with the extant Rules of the Senate? What is the APC Senate leadership afraid of and what is it hiding from Nigerians?

“It is even more absurd that instead of recusing himself, the Senate President sat as a judge in the matter; a situation that has the capacity to bring the institution of the Senate to further public disrepute.

“This is especially true as the issues at hand heavily border on alleged gross misconduct and criminal betrayal of public trust which are serious offenses under our laws.

“This apparent inclination towards covering up sleaze in the polity is already pitching the institution of the Senate against Nigerians who are demanding answers on the matter. Of course, the widely condemned suspension of Senator Ningi does not provide answers to the budget padding allegation.

“It is indeed unfortunate and a huge smear on the image of the Senate, as the highest lawmaking and probity Institution in the country, that its Presiding Officer has found himself in a quagmire of alleged sleaze and betrayal of public trust.

“Our party therefore stands with Senator Ningi for his courage in seeking probity and accountability in the polity.”

I stand with Ningi, says Bauchi governor

Also, the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has expressed full support for Senator Abdul Ningi, who was on Tuesday suspended by the Senate for three months.

“In today’s State Executive Council meeting, I made it clear that I stand firm in our support for Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi, of Bauchi Central,” Mohammed wrote on his official X account on Wednesday.

He added, “I emphasized the importance of preserving dissent within our political landscape without resorting to punitive actions.

“I am committed to examining Senator Ningi’s situation further. It is common knowledge that Senator Ningi is one of the best performing senators whose heritage and uprightness, ancestry and integrity are worthy of praise.”