From Fred Itua, Abuja

The Senate, yesterday, berated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for asking the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio to resign over “the unfounded claim of N3.7 trillion budget padding allegations by the suspended senator representing Bauchi Central, Abdul Ningi.”

Senate spokesman, Yemi Adaramodu, in a statement, said Akpabio would not resign and has no intention to resign at any time “because he has not committed any wrong doing to warrant a resignation.”

He declared that the PDP has elevated chicanery to a statecraft, and fatally failed in their sordid attempt to hoodwink the unsuspecting public on the ineffectual, but spurious allegations of budget padding.

“The party’s ludicrous call for the resignation of Senator Akpabio as the Senate President is unthinkable, and shows the party as a massaging balm for falsehood and immoral legislative outbursts.”

According to him, it is shocking that the PDP leadership could not comprehend what transpired at Tuesday’s plenary, where the allegations were debated and Senator Ningi, who was given the ample opportunity to defend himself and prove the budget padding allegations, was suspended after he failed to substantiate his claims in the full glare of the public.

“Contrary to the contention by the PDP that N3.7 trillion was discreetly inserted into the 2024 budget for alleged non-existent projects, and what transpired on the floor of the Chamber, it is open knowledge that no such absurdity is found in the budget passed by the National Assembly and signed by President Bola Tinubu, which is being implemented judiciously by the Federal Government.

“Perhaps, the N3.7 trillion being mentioned in the PDP’s shocking statement exists only in the fickle minds of its purveyors, and serves as a dubious version of the budget generated by the PDP’s unidentified political flying objects.”

Adaramodu said the Senate did not in any way violate the constitution or its standing rules and orders, in not referring the matter to a relevant committee, but the decision to take the issue in the Committee of the Whole was for transparency and fairness; and to afford the public the opportunity to follow the proceedings and have a value judgement as to who was lying to the nation.

“Contrary to the unspeakable grandstanding, Senator Ningi was never intimidated nor harassed, neither was he gagged nor denied the privilege to exercise his right of reply as the senator was given ample opportunity to defend himself. But, the whole world saw how he floundered, since he had no verifiable facts to substantiate his allegations and his futile efforts to defend lies.

“So, the decision to debate the matter in the Committee of the Whole was in sync with the resolve of the leadership of the 10th Senate under Senator Akpabio to stand for transparency, justice and fairness. The proceedings of the plenary were transmitted live by at least five popular national television stations, making all right thinking people to wonder the basis on which the PDP is questioning the process.

“The PDP expected the Senate to sweep the unfounded allegations under the carpet but the 10th Senate under the leadership of Senate President Akpabio has zero tolerance for corruption, insipid lies and egregious falsehood, such as the N3.7 trillion budget padding allegations, and could not have conducted the investigation in the closet as suggested by the PDP.

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“Making the Senate President, Akpabio the fruit to receive the stones is curious. The Senate and the House of Representatives made the appropriations law, hence the suspended senator disparaged and impugned on the social, political and legislative integrity of all.

“No amount of lies and fake allegations will distract the 10th Senate, under Akpabio, from delivering good legislation and effective oversight for which Nigerians elected us.”

On Wednesday, the PDP had asked Akpabio, to step aside, immediately to step aside to allow for an independent investigation of alleged padding of the 2024 budget with N3. 7 billion for “non-existent” projects.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, also demanded Akpabio should also report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) to account for his stewardship as governor of Akwa Ibom State.

It also challenged the Senate President to “speak out on the reported N86 billion contract scam in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) during his tenure as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.”

The opposition party, while condemning the suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi by the Senate, over the N3. 7 billion budget padding allegation, said the action is “a desperate move”  to alleged  suppress investigation into the issue.

“Moreover, the frustration of investigation by the APC Senate leadership further confirms PDP’s repeated alert that prominent APC officials in the National Assembly and a top official in the Presidency have been using ministers and other government functionaries to siphon budgeted funds from the national coffers.

“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.”

It added that”the widely condemned suspension of Senator Ningi does not provide answers to the budget padding allegation.. . Our Party therefore stands with Senator Ningi for his courage in seeking probity and accountability in the polity.

“What Nigerians expect at this moment is for the Senate President to come clean by stepping aside, allowing for an independent investigation into the budget padding allegation as well as clearing his name at the EFCC… “