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Opinion

Peter Obi to Senate: Suspension of Ningi hasn’t addressed vital issues in allegation

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, said the suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi by the Senate has not addressed vital issues in the allegation of the lawmaker.

Obi stated this in a statement via his X handle on Wednesday.

According to him, the fuss over the alleged N3 trillion padded into the 2024 budget still rages as the Senate’s reaction of suspending the whistle-blower has not addressed vital issues emanating from the allegation.

He said, “The Senator is insisting on his allegation, and the Executive agreed that there was only N1.2 trillion padded, not N3 trillion as alleged by the Senator. Fresh allegations have also cropped up over the indiscriminate and unbalanced allocation of constituency projects by the Senate leadership.

“A civic society group, Budgit, through their officials, has also added their voice to agree with the Senator. They allege that there were no detailed project allocations for about N3.7 trillion in the 2024 Appropriation Act.

“As the Senate suspension of the senator involved has not addressed the issue, they still owe the Nigerian public a clear clarification over the various claims and counterclaims, including that of the executive arm, to be able to know exactly what is happening, and also disclose to the public, the exact amounts allocated for constituency projects for appropriate monitoring of implementation by the public.

“I had particularly elucidated in my earlier comment on what we can use the N3 trillion to achieve, by showing that it is more than the national budget of the two most critical components of the human development index, health and education, combined.”

Obi further stated, “Now that the executive arm has accepted that the padded amount is only N1.2 trillion, it is still a very significant amount, when you consider that it is almost 5 times the N251.47 billion proposed for Universal Basic Education, which is the foundation of education, in the country.

“Today in Nigeria, the greatest challenge to human resource development is education, which has been identified as most critical at the basic level.”

The Labour Party candidate said Nigeria has about 20 million out-of-school children today because of the poor investment in education, adding that these are resources that would have been utilised to ensure that our children are taken off the streets and returned to schools.

He said the N1.2 trillion, which the executive branch admitted to have been padded, if channeled into any of the critical areas of development, could have positively impacted the nation and uplifted the people.

Obi said, “And if indeed the report from Budgit is true, that there is about N3.7 trillion without any detailed project allocations, I strongly urge the Senate to do more detailed work of channelling these funds into the critical areas of development — education, health and pulling people out of poverty, which will in turn, minimise the criminality we are facing today.

“We must, as a matter of urgency, put a stop to all the wastage of our scarce resources, amid the excruciating hardship in the country.

“Let every penny of our public funds be used for public good. That is the only way to achieve the new Nigeria we are working towards. – PO.”

Recall that the 2024 Budget has been a subject of controversy, with Ningi alleging that the Senate padded the 2024 budget to the tune of N3.7 trillion.

Ningi, in an interview with BBC Hausa, 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 Tinubu was skewed against the North.

At the resumed plenary on Tuesday, the Red Chamber, under the leadership of Senate President Godswill Akpabio, suspended Senator Ningi.

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