New Telegraph

Senators Karimi, Zam, Sheu Tackle Ningi Over Budget Padding Allegation

Three Senators: Steve Sunday Karimi, Titus Tartenger Zam and Kaka Sheu, yesterday, said that the allegation of budget padding against the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, by some senators, was unfounded, baseless and a figment of their imagination.

The trio in a statement in Abuja, warned against what they described as the antics of blackmailers, bent on creating an atmosphere of crisis in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. Karimi, Zam and Sheu, speaking on behalf of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF), also said that no room should be allowed for division and acrimony between Senators from the North and South by those who may not want to accord priority to national unity and harmony.

Karimi, who is from Kogi State; Zam from Benue State, and Sheu from Borno State, said that they could not be used to blackmail the budget process, which was done in good faith. Part of the statement reads: “At a meeting last week, some northern senators accused the Senate President of inserting projects worth N4 trillion in the 2024 budget. “They alleged that the projects, which had no locations, were inserted into the budget, which they also claimed was lopsided against the North and some parts of the South. “The Northern Senators also accused Akpabio of railroading the senators to hurriedly pass the budget, adding that it favoured Akpabio and his cronies.”

However, shedding light on what transpired at the meeting, the trio said it was only resolved that the report of the consultant engaged by the NSF be subjected to further scrutiny, as the entire appropriation process was a combination of work, from the executive, actively represented by the Minister of Budget and National Planning and other ministers, the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation and the Senate Committees on Appropriation.

Dismissing the allegation of padding as a ruse, they said while the executive brought a budget proposal of N27.5 trillion, the Senate passed a budget of N28.77 trillion. They queried: “The difference was N1.27 trillion, coming from all three arms of government. Where is the additional so-called padding of three trillion coming from? It was resolved that the Northern Senators’ consultant report be looked into by essential committees of the Senate and House of Representatives before jumping to a conclusion.” Karimi, Zam and Sheu urged the Northern Senators Caucus Leader, Abdul Ningi, to “rein in those who think a crisis-ridden Senate would better profit them.”

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