N3trn Budget Padding Saga: Akpabio Told To Resign, APC Chieftain Intervenes

  • APC chieftain Francis Okoye has backed the suspension of the embattled senator from Bauchi Central, Abdul Ahmed Ningi
  • Okoye declared his support for the leadership of the senate under Godswill Akpabio as he condemned the calls for his resignation and sack
  • In an exclusive interview with TheTalk.NG, Okoye maintained that the Senate President cannot step down because he has done nothing wrong

TheTalk.NG journalist Esther Odili has over two years of experience covering political parties and movements.

FCT, Abuja – The convener of APC South-East Coalition, Francis Okoye, has reacted to the calls for the resignation of the senate president, Godswill Akpabio, over allegations of N3.7 trillion padding of the 2024 budget.

Suspended senator's claims of N3.7 trillion padding in 2024 budget spark controversy in Nigerian SenateAPC South-East coalition condemns calls for Senate President Akpabio’s resignation over budget padding allegations.
Photo credit: Sen. Abdul Ahmed Ningi, The Senate President – NigeriaSource: Facebook

Akpabio should not resign, Okoye maintained

Okoye condemned the call for Akpabio’s resignation and queried what the senate leader had done to warrant such action.

“Resignation is far from it. Why would Akpabio resign as Senate President? What offense has he committed to be asked to resign? That is balderdash and uncalled for,” Okoye said.

Why Akpabio was told to resign

Recall that the Senate under the leadership of Akpabio suspended Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing the Bauchi Central Senatorial District.

Ningi had in an earlier interview, alleged that the federal government operated two versions of the 2024 budget. He stated that the Senate wanted to silence him for claiming that projects worth N3.7 trillion in the budget were untraceable.

On Thursday, March 14, the PDP called for Akpabio’s resignation to permit an impartial inquiry into claims that N3.7 trillion was clandestinely included in the 2024 budget for purported projects that do not exist.

Speaking exclusively with TheTalk.NG on the development, Okoye, disclosed that the suspended senator had a personal agenda against the leadership of the senate.

He stated thus:

“From what transpired on the floor of the Senate last Thursday, when Senator Ningi was asked to prove his allegations he said he had none and started apologizing to his colleagues, that alone shows he does not know what he was doing but merely trying to execute a personal agenda of getting at Senate President Akpabio using the Northern Senator’s forum. But am happy his plans failed like a pack of cards.”

Speaking further on the three-month suspension slammed on Senator Ningi, Okoye backed the move.

The APC chieftain explained that the embattled Senator Ningi deserved the punishment meted out against him by the senate.

Okoye added that Ningi’s suspension would serve “as a deterrent to others who could do such in future without any evidence.”

“Yes, the Senate, as an Institution has a right to sanction any of their colleagues, found wanting in his behaviour and conduct. This Is not the first time a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria is being suspended. He deserves the 3 months suspension given to him so that It will serve as a deterrent to others who could do such in future without any evidence.

“He who alleges, proves it. You don’t just come out to the public and make such heavy allegations without proving it. During the Senate sitting Senator Ningi was asked to provide evidence of his allegations on Budget padding but he could not bring such evidence. So It then means he was assuming or infact trying to create unnecessary bad blood in the Senate and in the country.”

Lawmakers carry out budget padding, Okoye says

Interestingly, Okoye maintained that lawmakers carry out budget padding.

Speaking further, the APC chieftain noted that the National Assembly has the right to either increase or reduce budgetary allocations.

Okoye explained thus:

“History has It that budgets have been padded in the past in this country. However It also depends on what people see as padding. By the powers invested on the National Assembly, they have right to thinker with the Budget proposal to either increase or reduce budgetary allocations sent to it by the Presidency, when such Is done people may accuse them of budget padding which in the real sense of it, is not padding.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday night, March 21, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said those raising allegations of budget padding did not understand the rudiment of the budget.

Reacting to Tinubu’s stance on the budget padding claim and if Nigerians will trust Tinubu’s government for second term in office, Okoye said:

“This is time for governance and the government of President Tinubu Ii doing its best trying to recover Nigeria from the decades of misgovernance of past administrations. So let’s forget the issue of the election for now. It is too early in the day to do so, for a government that is just 9 months in office. When time for re-election campaign comes we shall cross the bridge. For now, let’s face governance, that is the way forward.”

Ningi resigns as NSF chairman

TheTalk.NG earlier reported that Ningi resigned as the chairman of the northern senators’ form amid the saga trailing his comment.

Ningi’s resignation letter was sighted barely an hour after the senate suspended him over allegations of budget padding.

The embattled senator accused the Bola Tinubu-led federal government of implementing a 2024 budget higher than what the senate debated and passed. His remark has continued to elicited reactions.

Source: TheTalk.NG

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