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PDP Demands Akpabio Step Down Over Budget Controversy

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Akpabio Meets APC South-South State Chairmen

The Peoples Democratic Party, on Wednesday, ask for the resignation of the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to allow an independent investigation into the alleged padding of the 2024 budget to the tune of N3.7tn.

The budget padding allegation was raised by the Senator representing Bauchi Central, Abdul Ningi.

Ningi, in a media interview, claimed that while the budget passed by the National Assembly for the 2024 fiscal year was N25tn, the one being executed by the Presidency was N28.7tn.

However, at the plenary on Tuesday, the Senate took Ningi on to defend the allegation, at the end of which he was slammed with a three-month suspension for damaging the image of the Red Chamber over what senators decided was an unfounded allegation.

Reacting on Wednesday, the PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, expressed its support for the suspended senator.

The party strongly criticised the Senate leadership for suspending Ningi without conducting a thorough investigation into the matter of budget padding that he brought up.

“The Peoples Democratic Party demands that the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, immediately step aside and allow for an independent investigation into the allegation that a staggering N3.7tn was discreetly inserted into the 2024 budget for alleged non-existent projects.

“The party also demands that Senator Akpabio immediately reports to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the pending case of alleged looting of N108bn belonging to the people of Akwa Ibom State under his watch as the governor of the state.

“Furthermore, the Senate President should speak out on the reported N86bn contract scam in the Niger Delta Development Commission during his tenure as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs,” Ologunagba said.

PDP described the suspension of Senator Ningi as a desperate move to suppress investigation, conceal, and sweep the facts under the carpet.

The opposition party added: “We ask, why did the APC leadership in the Senate not refer the matter to the appropriate Senate Standing Committee for an open investigation in line with the extant Rules of the Senate? What is the APC Senate leadership afraid of and what is it hiding from Nigerians?

“It is even more absurd that instead of recusing himself, the Senate President sat as a judge in the matter, a situation that has the capacity to bring the institution of the Senate to further public disrepute.

“This is especially as the issues at hand heavily border on alleged gross misconduct and criminal betrayal of public trust which are serious offences under our laws.

“This apparent inclination towards covering up sleaze in the polity is already pitting the institution of the Senate against Nigerians who are demanding answers on the matter. Of course, the widely condemned suspension of Senator Ningi does not provide answers to the budget padding allegation.

“It is indeed unfortunate and a huge smear on the image of the Senate, as the highest lawmaking and probity institution in the country, that its Presiding Officer has found himself in a quagmire of alleged sleaze and betrayal of public trust.

“Our party therefore stands with Senator Ningi for his courage in seeking probity and accountability in the polity.”

Credit: Punch

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