FG Not Operating Two Versions of 2024 Budget, Presidency Tells Sen Ningi

.Says Tinubu govt not anti-north

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

The Presidency has reacted formally to allegation on Saturday by Chairman of Northern Senators Forum, Senator Abdul Ningi that President Bola Tinubu padded the 2024 Appropriation Act saying such report is nothing but unsubstantiated claims.

In a statement entitled “THE FACTS ABOUT 2024 BUDGET” issued on Sunday by Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency stressed that at no time did the President Tinubu-led administration operate two versions of 2024 budget.

Rather, it disclosed that it was the National Assembly in its wisdom that increased the proposed N27.5 trillion budget by N1.2 trillion to N28.7 trillion which the President graciously assented to.

While expressing concern that a sitting Senator can raise unsubstantiated claims to fuel divisive rhetoric, the Presidency emphasised that the government at the centre has never been anti-North but rather equitable to all parts of the country.

It further explained that President Tinubu as an avowed democrat will never indulge in unconstitutional acts like budget padding.

The Presidency in the press release stated inter alia: “Following the false claims made by Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central, that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Federal Government is operating two versions of the 2024 budget, we consider it appropriate to inform Nigerians that there is no truth whatsoever in the allegation. 

“Acting under the banner of Northern Senators’ Forum, Senator Ningi, falsely claimed in an interview he granted BBC Hausa Service, that the National Assembly debated and passed N25 Trillion as 2024 budget and not the N28.7 Trillion that is being implemented by the Federal Government. 

“To begin with, President Tinubu on November 29, 2023 presented a budget of N27.5 Trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly made up of N9.92 Trillion recurrent expenditure, Debt Service N8.25 Trillion and Capital Expenditure N8.7 Trillion.

This was widely reported. He did not present a budget of N25 Trillion. 

“Contrary to the strange view expressed by Senator 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 don’t 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 January 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 didn’t withhold his assent to the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly. We want to stress that if the budget figure was increased and made to be different from what the Executive proposed, it was the National Assembly that jacked it up in exercise of its power of appropriation. 

“On the uncharitable claim that the 2024 budget was anti-North, we found such position as canvassed by Senator Ningi as too far-fetched and unbecoming of a leader of his status. 

“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, 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. 

“It is concerning that a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can employ such primordial antics to fuel divisive  rhetoric at a time well-meaning Nigerians are joining hands with President Tinubu to raise the spirit of national cohesion, unity and inclusive politics. 

“We want to use this opportunity to commend  Senator Yemi Adaramodu, Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Publicity for setting the record straight. We also commend Senators Steve Sunday Karimi (Kogi), Titus Tartenger Zam (Benue) and Kaka Sheu (Borno) for their forthrightness and for coming out against the misrepresentation of facts by Senator Ningi. 

“President Tinubu is a firm believer in the rule of law and constitutional democracy. As an avowed democrat, he will not engage and indulge in any unconstitutional action or act in any manner that assaults the Constitution of Nigeria by operating any budget outside the one approved by the National Assembly, which he dutifully signed into law. 

“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. 

“Included in the budget are statutory transfers to the Judiciary, National Assembly, Tetfund and others.”

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