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Senator Ningi Isn’t Sincere Nor Straightforward,  Says Senator Zam

“Abdul Ningi (is) someone who speaks from two sides of the mouth,” Zam said.

Following Senator Abdul Ningi’s allegations which suggested discrepancies in the 2024 budget, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Titus Tartenger Zam, joined ARISE NEWS in an interview on Tuesday to debunk the allegations of Ningi.

Zam asserted that there is no such thing as budget padding, adding that Ningi’s actions were insincere and contradicted the agreement made not to go to the press regarding the allegations.

“We met at the plenary last week Thursday, after which senator Ningi told us northern senators that we were going to meet with the senate president, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over certain infractions that he allegedly discovered in the budget.

“We came to the senate president and Abdul Ningi presented a document purporting to be a report from a consultant that was hired. He presented this document but said the document was only an interim report, that a full report will be presented to the senate president, where it will be established that some fractions occurred in the budget.

“When Abdul Ningi finished his presentation, Senator Akpabio said, ‘you said this is only an interim report, that more findings are being done, after which you will present a comprehensive report. So, when you are able to present your comprehensive report, I will also undertake a similar scrutiny of your report in order to establish the veracity or otherwise of your allegations’.

“But we agreed in the Thursday meeting with the senate president that since this document is not yet authenticated, nobody should go to the press over it, because the findings may go one way or the other. It may be a mere ruse. 

“We were all taken aback on Friday, many online platforms were inundated by reports of alleged 3 trillion naira budget padding by Senator Akpabio, purporting to have been discovered by senator Abdul Ningi. Abdul Ningi has come across as someone who is not objective, who is not sincere, and who is not straightforward.

“I think it is proper to conceptualize the person of senator Abdul Ningi as someone who speaks from two sides of the mouth. It is not true that there is anything like budget padding.”

He added that even if there are any infractions, which there aren’t, Akpabio is not to blame for them, since the document wasn’t prepared by Akpabio.

“At the end of the day, the nation was presented with a 28 trillion naira document and that is the official document we have. I want to put it to Abdul Ningi to tell us where he has gotten the so-called 25 trillion naira budget. The budget process begins with the executive arm of government. It is the executive arm of government that prepares the document and presents it to the national assembly for scrutiny. The authors, the originators of the budget, are the executive branch of government. And if the owners of this document are saying we presented 27 trillion naira and the national assembly added 1 trillion naira to it, totalling 28 trillion naira plus, how come Abdul Ningi is talking about a 25 trillion naira budget? That is up to him to establish.

“We sat jointly with the house of representatives to scrutinize the document brought to us from the executive branch of government. Why is Abdul Ningi setting out senator Akpabio for vilification? This document was prepared not by senator Akpabio. We had joint sessions with members of the house of representatives. So why would Abdul Ningi set out to heap the whole blame, even if there is any infraction whatsoever, as at now, there is none. There is nothing like budget padding. I want to tell the whole world that Abdul Ningi is not telling the truth. He is out on the worst form of partisanship and the worst form of political mischief.”

The senator also mentioned that some allocations aren’t tied to any location or project.

“He is insisting on locations that some figures are not attached to. Abdul Ningi does not even know that there are certain transfers that don’t have locations. Monies allocated to INEC, money allocated to judiciary and so on. Some of these things require some level of accounting knowledge, some level of accounting of the budgeting process.”

Zam further said that Ningi’s allegations come as a surprise because he never raised concerns about these allocations without location when the budget was being considered.

“When on Tuesday, Abdul Ningi began this politics of allegations of budget padding and he brought it to us in the meeting, we said ‘well this is fantastic. If you have proof, bring it forward’. He told us that the consultant has not finished the work. He brought the allegation in the Northern Senators Forum meeting on Tuesday not during the budgeting process. The budget has since been passed and signed into law. He did not have any issue as at that time.”

Melissa Enoch

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