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Tinubu Denies Budget Padding, National Assembly To Meet Over Allegation On Tuesday




By Stephen Asaba-ase

Things fall apart as president Bola Ahmed Tinubu denied allegations of padding the 2024 budget with an additional N3tr.

This accusation was made by Senator Abdul Ningi of Bauchi Central (PDP), stating that the presidency is implementing a budget other than the one approved on January 1, 2024.

This came as Senate said it would meet over the matter on Tuesday, using its internal mechanism and control processes.

Senator Ningi had contested the president’s claim under the guise of the Northern Senators’ Forum in a BBC Hausa Service interview, adding that the Federal Government, led by President Bola Tinubu, was implementing a budget enormously higher than what was passed by the NASS.

According to Ningi, a N25tn appropriation bill was debated and passed by the NASS and signed by the president as budget and not the N28.7tn that is currently being implemented.

“If there was another budget that was passed underground we didn’t know, aside the one that the National Assembly did on the floor.

“We have discovered new things in the budget that are 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 N28tn but what was passed was N25 trillion. So there is N3tn on top. Where are they, where is it going? So, we need to know this. There are a lot of things,” said Ningi.

The Senator also revealed plans to meet with Mr President later this week saying, “We are coming up with a report to show the president and ask him if he is aware or not.”

He revealed that the forum had mandated consultants to scrutinize the 2024 budget to exhume how N3tn was privately included into the figure considered and passed by the National Assembly.

However, According to a press statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, on 10 March 2024, said the Presidency tagged Ningi’s allegation as “false” affirming that Tinubu had initially presented a N27.5tn budget to the National Assembly on November 29, 2023.

The budget spelt out N9.92tn for recurrent expenditure, N8.25tn for debt service, and N8.7tn for capital expenditure, negating Ningi’s claims.

The Presidency also stated that it was impossible for the National Assembly to have debated and passed a N25tn budget that was never considered at the floor of the Senate.

“We don’t expect a ranking Senator to carelessly forgive a details attention before making wild allegations.

“It is also important to let Nigerians know that the budget that President Tinubu signed into law on January 1, 2024, as passed by the National Assembly was N28.7tn,” Onanuga insisted.

He argued that the National Assembly only exercised its appropriation powers, and increased the executive’s proposed budget by N1.2tn to N28.7tn, which President Tinubu subsequently signed into law on New Year’s Day.

Onanuga stated, “We want to state categorically that the only 2024 budget that is being implemented is the N28.7tn budget passed by the National Assembly and signed by the President.

“Included in the budget are statutory transfers to the Judiciary, National Assembly, Tetfund and others. He did not present a budget of N25tn.”

Addressing Senator Ningi’s assertion that the 2024 budget was anti-North, the Presidency dismissed it as “far-fetched” and “unbecoming” of a leader of his stature.”

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