Alleged 2024 Budget: Bauchi Tasks Nigerian Senate Investigate Padding 

By Khalid Idris Doya

An Amalgamation of Concerned in Bauchi has tasked the Nigerian Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio to as a matter of urgency immediately step aside and allow investigation of the allegations in line with the rules of the Senate.

“The Senate should immediately withdraw the illegal and undemocratic suspension of Senator Ningi and tender an unreserved apology to the senator and to the good people of Bauchi Central Senatorial District whom he ably represents.”

According to the group, the Senate should also order for an investigation into the allegation of 500 million naira given to some selected ranking senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The chairman of the group, Umar Sa’id Maigamo told a press conference in Bauchi Tuesday that the nation’s Upper Legislative Chamber should similarly review the 2024 budget and all the anomalies therein be corrected with immediate effect.

He said, “We would like to make it categorically clear that should the Senate insist on denying Senator Ningi a fair hearing, we, the good people of Bauchi State, particularly constituents from the Bauchi Central Senatorial District, will follow all lawful and democratic means to seek for redress”.

Comrade Umar Sa’id Maigamo explained that it is imperative that the nation’s nascent democracy must thrive on the principle of justice, fairness and accountability, saying, “We must uphold such values and hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and inactions”.

Maigamo, who spoke on the platform of Amalgamation of Bauchi State Concerned Groups, on what he christened as the unlawful and undemocratic suspension of Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi, prayed for immediate response to the group’s demands.

The group, while condemning and rejecting what it termed as undemocratic suspension of Senator Abdul Ahmed Bingo from the Senate, also stated in unequivocal terms that it would never back down or compromise its stand over these demands.

“We consider this decision as premeditated, hasty, unlawful and undemocratic on several grounds, recalling that Senator Abdul Ningi in an attempt to exercise his legislative and constitution right granted an interview to the BBC Hausa Service where he raised pertinent issues regarding the 2024 budget”.

“In the said interview, the senator revealed that there were some anomalies in the budget where he specifically stated that the sum of 3.7 trillion naira could not be traced to any projects or location in the 2024 budget.”

“Senator Ningi’s assertion was corroborated by several professional groups including BudgiT Foundation, a renowned civil society organization promoting accountability and transparency in public spending in Nigeria”.

“However, in a rare display of injustice, disdain for the rule of law and democratic tenets, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio at the plenary held on 12th March, 2024 announced the suspension of Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi for 3 months”, Maigamo further recalled.

“This followed a motion moved by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola representing Ogun West, who alleged that his privilege as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had been breached by the assertion of Senator Abdul Ningi concerning the 2024 budget”.

The group chairman said however that Instead of giving Senator Abdul Ningi fair hearing or in the alternative order for a forensic analysis of the entire budget, the Senate went ahead to execute its ‘premeditated’ action.

He drew the attention of Nigerians on the diversionary antics by the leadership of the Senate to cover up the mess by turning the issue into North and South dichotomy.

“Specifically, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (Senate Majority Leader), representing Ekiti Central stood up on the floor of the Nigerian Senate to proclaim that he was addressing the same Senate as “Southern Senator” alleging that there was a Northern plot to sabotage and remove Akpabio for no reason that he is from the South”.

This, according to the group, shows that Senator Bamidele is a poor student of history, as several Senate Presidents of southern extraction have been fully supported by Northerners, namely Dennis Osadebey 1960 – 1963; Nwafor Orizu 1963 – 1966; Joseph Wayas 1979 – 1983; and Evans Enweren 1990, to mention a few.

“On the contrary, Senator Abdul Ningi being a patriotic, experienced and higher ranking legislator than Bamidele and his likes, neither addressed himself as a Northern Senator nor linked the 3.7 trillion naira to any section of the country”.

Maigamo also drew the attention of Nigerians on the allegation made by Senator Agom Jarigbe, representing Cross River North in the plenary that some ranking senators received the sum of 500 million naira each excluding himself, but was prevented from speaking further by deliberately turning off his microphone, “The allegation was ignored by the Presiding Officer”.

He therefore commended Senator Ningi for his courage, doggedness and patriotism by exposing the inadequacies in the budget, stressing that such inadequacies include a situation where some constituencies got allocations as high as 120 billion naira while others got less than a billion.

Maigamo concluded, “Is it in line with the assertion of a senator “not all animals are equal”.

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