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13.03.2024 Featured N40b in 2016, N3trn in 2024… Times Budget Padding Controversies Rocked the National Assembly

Published 13th Mar, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

The Nigerian Senate has come under public scrutiny over budget padding allegations made by Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi, who represents Bauchi Central Senatorial District.

Ningi was suspended on Tuesday after accusing the Senate of fraudulently inserting N3 trillion into the 2024 operational budget.

According to the senator, the Senate approved a N25 trillion budget but the one currently in effect is N28 trillion.

BREAKING: Senator Ningi Suspended Over Budget Padding Allegation

FIJ understands that this is not the first time the National Assembly has been accused of budget padding. Here are a few similar events:.

2000: OBASANJO REFUSED TO SIGN BUDGET OVER PADDING

In 2000, former President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to sign the budget approved by the National Assembly. He alleged that it had been inflated with about N2 billion, which was added to lawmakers’ previous allocation.

Obasanjo eventually agreed to sign the budget amid growing threats of impeachment, according to local reports.

2008: YAR’ADUA REFUSED TO SIGN

The late President Umaru Yar’Adua also refused to sign the 2008 budget into law when he found that his proposed budget of N2.94 trillion had been increased by the lawmakers.

For instance, the Senate allocated the sum of N120 million as non-regular allowances. This, according to reports, fueled his refusal to sign the budget. He later agreed to sign it when his refusal almost resulted in a near shutdown of the nation.

JONATHAN REFUSED TO SIGN

Like Obasanjo and Yar’Adua, former President Goodluck Jonathan refused to sign the 2011 budget because of padding.

The budget padding of that year primarily aimed to augment the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly, whose previous N120 billion budget was increased to N232.74 billion.

In the end, the president agreed to allocate N150 billion to the National Assembly, and that year’s budget was signed.

2016: SPEAKER ACCUSED OF BUDGET PADDING

Abdulmumin Jibrin, a former House of Representatives member, accused some principal officers of the House, including the then Speaker Yakubu Dogara, of padding the 2016 budget.

Jibrin, who claimed that the lawmakers allocated N40 billion to themselves in the budget, was suspended for 180 sitting days. He was also removed as the chairman of the appropriation committee.

2018: BUHARI ALLEGED BUDGET PADDING

While signing the 2018 budget into law, then-President Muhammadu Buhari accused the National Assembly of tampering with the budget by cutting essential projects and inserting non-essential ones.

Buhari submitted a budget proposal of N8.621 trillion to the National Assembly. However, when it was returned, the budget had been reportedly inflated by N508 billion, thus increasing the previous amount to N9.12 trillion.

“The National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion,” Buhari stated.

The former president claimed he did not know about the additional amounts and projects inserted in the budget. But, in response, the National Assembly said he was not being honest.

READ ALSO: Budget Padding: Senator Jarigbe Says ‘Senior’ Senators Got N500m Each

2019: TINUBU ALLEGED BUDGET PADDING

As an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in 2019, Bola Tinubu (now president) accused the leadership of the 8th National Assembly of hijacking the national budget process for four years.

The National Assembly leaders in question were Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Tinubu said at the time, “The national budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them.”

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Published 13th Mar, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

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