Sen. Ningi denies accusing President Tinubu of implementing two budgets

Sen. Abdul Ningi (PDP-Bauchi Central) on Monday in Abuja denied saying President Bola was operating two different budgets for 2024.

The BBC Hausa Service had reported that Ningi made the submission in an interview he granted the British media giant.

It said Ningi spoke under the banner of the Northern Senators’ Forum and claimed that the National Assembly passed N25 trillion as the 2024 budget and not the N28.7 trillion that was being implemented by the Federal Government.

Speaking with newsmen on Monday, Ningi said he was thoroughly misrepresented and was taken aback by the twist of events.

Ningi also said he was not representing the Northern Senators Forum, as reported, but spoke in his personal capacity.

“With the press release I saw in the media yesterday, I am taken aback.

“At no time did I say Bola Tinubu was implementing two budgets. There was no time. At no time did I say Bola Tinubu was biased against the north.

“At no time did I say Bola Tinubu was implementing the N25 trillion budget. There is no way I will talk about N25 trillion and N28 trillion,’’ he said.

Reacting to Ningi’s interview on Sunday in Abuja, the Presidency dismissed his claims as unfortunate, coming from a high-ranking senator.

“There is no truth whatsoever in the allegation made by Sen. Ningi that President Tinubu is operating two budgets for 2024,’’ Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, stated.

He explained that on Nov. 29, 2023, President Tinubu presented a budget of N27.5 trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly.

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The budget was made up of N9.92 trillion recurrent expenditure; debt servicing of N8.25 trillion and capital expenditure of N8.7 trillion.

“Contrary to the strange view expressed by Sen. Ningi, there was no way the Senate could have debated and passed a N25 trillion budget that was not presented to the National Assembly.

“We do not expect a ranking senator not to pay due attention to details before making wild claims.

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

“The National Assembly, in its wisdom, increased the amount proposed by the Executive by N1.2 trillion.

“In the spirit of democracy, which allows give and take, President Tinubu did not withhold his assent to the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly,’’ Onanuga added.

He said it was also too far-fetched for Sen. Ningi to claim that the 2024 budget was anti-North.

“President Tinubu is leading a government that is fair and equitable to every part and segment of Nigeria.

“In terms of funding, distribution of capital, and priority projects, the 2024 Appropriation Act was not skewed against any section of the country.

“The North, as an integral part of the country, is well covered in all areas.

“It is covered from security to agriculture, healthcare to education, and other important infrastructure such as roads, rail, dams, power, and irrigation projects to support all year-round agriculture,’’ he stressed.

Onanuga assured that, as an avowed democrat, President Tinubu would not assault the Constitution of Nigeria by operating any budget outside the one approved by the National Assembly, which he dutifully signed into law.

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“We want to state categorically that the only 2024 budget that is being implemented is the N28.7 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly and signed by the president,’’ he added.

Also reacting to Sen. Ningi’s BBC interview, which he has denied, Sen. Jimoh Ibrahim (APC-Ondo) said: “What Ningi said was very embarrassing.

“We are the 10th Senate. We will not just fold our hands. The Senate approved only one appropriation for 2024. We never approved two.

“The Presidency of Nigeria cannot operate on two budgets,’’ he said.

Ibrahim, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, said Ningi provided false information that was unacceptable. (NAN)

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