Nigerians are expressing increasing discontent over the alleged padding of the 2024 budget. Concerns range from the significant figures involved to accusations of the Senate’s attempt to brush aside the allegations, notably seen through the suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi),DailyTrust reports.

Ningi, formerly the chair of the Northern Senators’ Forum, had claimed in a BBC Hausa Service interview that the 2024 budget was padded by a whopping N3.7 trillion. During the discussion on Ningi’s allegation, Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (Cross River) disclosed that “senior senators” were allocated constituency projects worth N500 million each in the budget.

This revelation sparked further scrutiny, with several senators compelled to clarify the allocations they received. Nigerians, over the weekend, utilized various platforms to voice their opinions, calling for a comprehensive investigation into Ningi’s claims.

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According to findings by BudgIT, the National Assembly introduced a total of 7,447 projects amounting to N2.24 trillion into the 2024 Budget. Among these were 55 projects with a cumulative value of N580.7 billion, each costing at least N5 billion. Notably, there was an envelope of N100 billion earmarked in the Executive Budget Proposal for constituency/zonal intervention projects, but lawmakers surpassed this allocation to include thousands of similar projects in the budgets of 326 MDAs.

Furthermore, an analysis of the budget detailed that Senator Godswill Akpabio’s senatorial district in Akwa Ibom State potentially received around N90 billion worth of projects, with a substantial number attributed to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

Senator Ned Nwoko of Delta North disclosed receiving N1 billion for constituency projects. He emphasized the varying allocations among legislators, influenced by their positions and lobbying efforts.

Critics have lambasted the practice of constituency projects, citing corruption and inefficiency. They argue that the system lacks transparency and accountability, with projects often left incomplete or poorly executed.

Despite the uproar, some lawmakers defended the National Assembly’s right to modify the budget, asserting that such actions are within their constitutional mandate. However, civil society organizations (CSOs) and activists have called for thorough investigations into the alleged padding and for appropriate actions to be taken against those implicated.

An old video of former President Olusegun Obasanjo denouncing corruption within the National Assembly resurfaced, adding fuel to the ongoing debate. Meanwhile, sources within the Senate leadership suggest that efforts are underway to resolve the issue surrounding Ningi’s suspension amicably, hinting at a possible reinstatement pending a public apology.


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