N3.7trn Budget Padding: Step Aside Immediately, Report Yourself To EFCC, PDP Tells Akpabio

.....decries Ningi's suspension without investigation into claims

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As controversies over the alleged padding of the 2024 budget disclosed by embattled Senator representing Bauchi Central, Abdul Ningi divide stakeholders in the political landscape, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to step aside and allow for an independent investigation into the N3.7trn 2024 Budget padding allegation.

InsideBusiness had reported how Ningi was suspended by the Senate for three months following his insistence that the 2024 budget was padded to the tune of N3.7 trillion tied to no projects.

This decision followed approximately three hours of debate 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 last 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 to the controversy trailing the punitive action meted on Ningi, 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 “The Peoples 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 demanded that Senator Akpabio immediately report at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 Minister of Niger Delta Affairs,” the PDP said.

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

“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.”

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