The Presidency has refuted claims that it added N3 trillion to the 2024 budget.

This came after Senator Abdul Ningi of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) made claims that the executive was using a different budget than the one that was approved on January 1, 2024.

The Senate announced that it would convene on Tuesday to discuss the issue through its internal procedures and oversight process.

In an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, Ningi, acting on behalf of the Northern Senators’ Forum, argued that President Bola Tinubu’s Federal Government was operating on a budget that was much larger than what the NASS had approved.The lawmaker claims that instead of the N28.7tn budget that is currently in effect, a N25tn budget was discussed and approved.In addition to the work done by the National Assembly on the floor, we were unaware of another budget that was completed behind closed doors.

“We were unaware of the new information we found in the budget. They are not included in the budget that was discussed and decided upon on the National Assembly floor.For instance, a N28 trillion budget was allegedly proposed, but only a N25 trillion budget was ultimately approved. N3tn is therefore at the top. Which way is it going, and where are they? We must thus be aware of this. Ningi remarked, “There are many things.”

“We are coming up with a report and we will show the president himself and ask him if he is aware or not,” the lawmaker said, revealing plans to meet President Bola Tinubu later this week.He disclosed that the forum had hired experts to assess the 2024 budget in order to determine how N3tn was covertly added to the sum that legislators approved.The President’s Special Advisor on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, signed a statement on behalf of the Presidency, characterizing Ningi’s assertions as “false” and stating that Tinubu had first submitted a N27.5tn budget to the National Assembly on November 29, 2023.Contrary to Ningi’s claims, it stated that this budget included N9.92 trillion for recurrent expenses, N8.25 trillion for debt service, and N8.7 trillion for capital expenditures.

The Senate could not have discussed and approved a N25 trillion budget that was never put forth, the President emphasized.”Despite Senator Ningi’s bizarre viewpoint, the Senate was unable to discuss and approve a N25 trillion budget that was not submitted to the National Assembly.”We do not think a ranking senator would make wild claims without carefully considering the facts.

“It is imperative to inform Nigerians that the N28.7 trillion budget, which was approved by the National Assembly, was signed into law by President Tinubu on January 1, 2024,” Onanuga stated.It maintained that the National Assembly only used its appropriations authority and raised the proposed budget of the executive branch by N1.2 trillion to N28.7 trillion, which President Tinubu then signed into law on New Year’s Day.”We want to state categorically that the N28.7tn budget that was passed by the National Assembly and signed by the President is the only 2024 budget that is being implemented,” Onanuga said.Statutory transfers to the National Assembly, Tetfund, and the judiciary are included in the budget. A N25 trillion budget was not presented by him.The Presidency rejected Senator Ningi’s claim that the 2024 budget was anti-North, calling it “far-fetched” and “unbecoming” of a leader of his caliber.

The statement went on, “We found Senator Ningi’s position on the unjustified allegation that the 2024 budget was anti-Northern to be excessively extreme and unworthy of a leader of his caliber.

“President Tinubu is in charge of an administration that treats every area and population of Nigeria fairly and equally. Regarding financing, capital allocation, and priority projects, there was no discrimination against any region of the nation in the 2024 Appropriations Act.

As a vital component of the nation, the North is well-served in all spheres, including security, agriculture, healthcare, education, and other infrastructure projects like power plants, railroads, dams, and irrigation systems that enable year-round farming.

Concern was also voiced regarding the possibility that a Federal Republic of Nigeria senator would “use such primitive antics to fuel divisive rhetoric at a time well-meaning Nigerians are joining hands with President Tinubu to raise the spirit of national cohesion, unity, and inclusive politics.”

“Setting the record straight,” Senator Yemi Adaramodu, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, was thanked by Onanuga, who also praised Senators Steve Karimi (Kogi), Titus Zam (Benue), and Kaka Sheu (Borno) for “coming out against the misrepresentation of facts by Senator Ningi.

“Amidst the claims, which some senators have labeled as baseless, there are signs that some senators may demand the senator from Bauchi be suspended.

Various sources claim that the senators are upset with the lawmaker for allegedly making statements that might negatively reflect on the Senate.In a conversation with our correspondent on Saturday, the Senate’s spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu (APC, Ekiti South), denied the allegation, asserting that the budget contained no padding of any kind.The results show that since the interview appeared online, some senators and members of the House of Representatives have been getting together.Several lawmakers, including members of the Executive of the Northern Senators Forum, reportedly distanced themselves from Ningi’s statement during one such meeting that took place at the Senate wing of the National Assembly.

A lawmaker made it clear that the northern bloc of the Senate would hold a press conference on Monday in order to refute the accusations made by the forum chairman.

Legislative measures to penalize Ningi, according to certain senators who spoke with our correspondent under the condition of anonymity, were in the works.

As of press time, this could not be independently verified.Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Ogun West), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, informed reporters on Sunday that the Senate would handle the matter through internal legislative procedures, abandoning his original plan to address the problem of purported budget padding.

Speaking to reporters alongside other senators from both the northern and southern axis, Adeola stated that the Senate Chamber on Tuesday was the ideal venue for responding to a charge of budget padding made by a sitting senator who took part in the budget’s consideration and passage.In response to a senator’s remarks over the weekend about two possible versions of the 2024 budget, Adeola said, “As you can see, many Senators from the six geopolitical zones are here with me to react.

However, after realizing that there are laid down procedures and processes to follow in dealing with such a matter involving an insider, we have decided, to shift the venue of reaction, to the Senate Chamber on Tuesday, after which, journalists would be adequately briefed.

“The Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions may be required by its applicable rules to invite Ningi to be questioned.As of the time of publication, attempts to get Ningi’s response had proven fruitless. On Sunday, he did not return calls, texts, or WhatsApp messages sent to his number.

On Wednesday, November 39, 2023, Tinubu addressed a joint section of the National Assembly with a budget totaling N27.5 trillion, dubbed the “Renewed Hope budget.

“Nonetheless, a harmonized 2024 budget appropriations bill totaling N28.77tn was approved by the National Assembly on Saturday, December 30, 2023, for a third reading.

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