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BREAKING: BudgIT Backs Ningi, Reveals More On N3.7 Trn Budget Padding Saga

BudgIT, a civic organization dedicated to Nigerian budget and public data analysis, has thrown its support behind suspended Senator Abdul Ningi regarding a purported N3.7 trillion gap in the 2024 budget presented to the National Assembly.

Seun Onigbinde, Director and co-founder of BudgIT, emphasized Ningi’s stance during an interview with Channels Television on Wednesday, asserting that if there was no detailed allocation for N3.7 trillion in the 2024 budget, Ningi’s claim holds merit.

Onigbinde stated, “Senator Ningi was right if he posited that there was no detailed allocation for N3.7 trillion in the 2024 budget.”

Ningi, representing Bauchi Central senatorial district, faced suspension by the Senate on Tuesday over allegations that two versions of the 2024 budget were passed in the National Assembly. He alleged a N3 trillion padding in the budget and criticized the neglect of the North under President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

Senator Olamilekan Adeola, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, initiated a motion on breach of privilege against Ningi following his interview with BBC Hausa. The Senate subsequently ratified Ningi’s suspension for three months, amending an initial proposal for a 12-month suspension.

Reacting to the development, the BudgIT boss highlighted deficiencies in the budget, particularly regarding statutory elements lacking comprehensive analysis. He pointed out that allocations for entities like the National Assembly, National Judicial Council (NJC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) lacked detailed breakdowns, emphasizing the public’s right to transparency.

Onigbinde said, “There is a different conversation that those projects should be detailed. TETFUND should not just get an allocation. “What are you spending the money on? INEC is collecting a huge chunk of funds but there is no public details about what the funds are used for.

”The same thing with NJC, even the national assembly. “In the current budget, the national assembly gave a very broad summary of its allocations but there are no detailed allocations on a granular level that everybody can interrogate. “These are transparency issues and if you put all these together, that is around N3.5 trillion to N3.7 trillion.”

”So, if that is what he (Ningi) wants to interrogate, there are components of the budget where there is no breakdown. That is very factual.

“But the national assembly needs to push back. We need a breakdown. What is NJC spending money on? We give more money to the NJC and say take it arbitrarily. What are they spending that money on? There should be a detailed breakdown to the public. On that point, Senator Ningi is right but to look as if we are running parallel budgets, that is not right.”

 

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