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Ningi: Senate Already Having Some Credibility Problems – Minority Leader

Ningi had in a recent interview alleged that the Senate padded the 2024 budget to the tune of N3.7 trillion.


A file photo of the Nigerian Senate. Inset: Senator Ningi

 

Following the suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi, the Senate Minority Leader, Abba Moro, on Wednesday said the upper chamber is having some credibility problems.

Ningi had in an interview with BBC Hausa alleged that the Senate padded the 2024 budget to the tune of N3.7 trillion. He also claimed that the Federal Government is operating two versions of the 2024 budget and that the N28.7 trillion Budget passed and signed into law by President Bola Tinubu was skewed against the North.

The situation forced the Red Chamber under the leadership of Senate President Godswill Akpabio on Tuesday to suspend Senator Abdul Ningi.

A day after the incident, Senator Moro who represents Benue South in the National Assembly, said the situation has made the upper chamber face an integrity test.

READ ALSO: Senate Suspends Ningi For Three Months Over Budget Padding Claims

“The budget in question was passed by the senators. Senator Ningi is a senator, he was a member of the Appropriation Committee. I am from the north and he purported to speak for the north,” he said.

“Why I was angry is that Senator Kawu Sumaila who is the spokesperson of the Northern Senators Forum came before me and said that he was going to address the press on this same matter while the debate was going on.

“I said, ‘You don’t do that. You raised issues, we are tackling the issues and here you are, you want to address the press, go ahead and address the press.’ That was why I raised my hands because as a minority leader, Senator Kawu Sumaila is a member of the NNPP, he is within me and signed for me to be a minority leader.

“So why would he not accept my advice? As people have commented now, the Senate is already having some level of credibility problems. Why would an individual arrogate to himself the power to know it all, say it all.”

Senator Abba Moro was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on March 13, 2024.

‘Right Thing’

Moro also defended the action of the Senate leadership, saying it did the right thing in Ningi’s matter.

‘I think the Senate did the appropriate thing, I was there. Budget padding may not be mentioned here now in the 10th Senate because previous budgets have been criticised based on budget padding.

“But this is the first time a participant senator who was honestly engaged in the whole process is coming out to say that what I did was wrong and rubbing it on all of us. I think it is not correct.”

He faulted Ningi’s action, recalling how the Northern Senators Forum had an audience with the Senate President in which Kawu and Ningi were in attendance.

‘Totally Damaged’

Akpabio lamented that the integrity of the Senate has been totally damaged by Ningi’s claims, stressing that the upper chamber has been subjected to ridicule as Nigerians are bashing the parliament.

Akpabio faulted Ningi’s earlier interview and for also granting a follow-up interview where he purportedly justified his initial claim of budget padding.

“Nigerians are bashing the Senate. Many Nigerians will never in future come back to respect this chamber. The integrity of this chamber has been totally damaged and we wanted you to repair it with your speech,” he said during plenary on Tuesday.

“Instead of that, you said you have more documents to prove what you are saying. This thing is in the public glare. I have not received full details up to this moment. If you had given me full details, I would have been able to know what you know.

“So far, what you know is only known to you, it is not known to any other person. I don’t know how you rushed to the press carrying different versions. The social media is very fast. From Canada, the United States, everywhere, the story was budget padding by the Senate.

“I can quote a section of the Premium Times that said ‘this is the highest level of budget padding in Nigeria’s history where the budget passed a budget of N25 trillion but what we collect was N28 trillion.”