Group Dismisses Claims Of Concentration Of Projects In South

The Governance Accountability and Advocacy Centre (GAAC) has rubbished insinuations that the 2024 budget was skewed in favour of the southern part of the country.

The group said there was no iota of truth in the allegations of lopsided allocations of 2024 budgetary funds by the Northern Senators Forum, adding that such fallacious claims were intended to cause disaffection among Nigeria’s federating entities.

The GAAC, which made this known at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, said the budget was passed after careful consideration and debate by the National Assembly.

The convener of the group, Okwa Dan, therefore, reaffirmed that the 2024 budget was designed to benefit all Nigerians, not just a particular region or group of persons.

While urging the Senators to interact as colleagues to ensure that the budget is implemented in a way that benefits the nation, Dan said they were elected to work for the good of all Nigerians.

He also passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the National Assembly, describing them as patriotic, committed, and focused on the Nigeria cause.

“We would like to remind the Northern Senators Forum to come forward with a message that clears the air and reasserts that Nigeria is a diverse country with many different ethnic groups and religions. We must work together to build a united and prosperous nation. We must not allow ourselves to be divided along geo-political lines.

“We understand that the Northern Senators Forum may have concerns about the allocation and distribution of resources in the 2024 budget. But these are concerns that can be addressed through dialogue and collaboration.

“We urge the Northern Senators Forum to engage in constructive dialogue with their colleagues in the Senate to address any concerns they may have so that some characters will not impersonate them to exploit such. There are provisions for amending the budget, which can be explored to address any identified concerns.

“We believe that the 2024 budget was passed after careful consideration and debate by the National Assembly. It is a people’s budget that is designed to benefit all Nigerians, not just a particular region or group. We urge the Senators to interact as colleagues to ensure that the budget is implemented in a way that benefits all Nigerians.

“It is of note that the Leadership of both Houses of the National Assembly are evenly distributed across North and South. Membership of the two chambers is also distributed across the country, with the North having more seats than the South.

“The Chairmen of Appropriation Committees for both Chambers of the Parliament come from the North and the South, which shows balance. The budget was not passed by lawmakers from the South but by the plenaries of both houses, which had northern lawmakers actively contributing to debates and voting to pass the budget.

“The reservations that some people are now expressing could have been expressed at the stages when the budget was being considered. This would have ensured that amends were made if there was truly a need for it. But to now begin to castigate a budget they were part of approving smacks of mischief that would not bode well for anyone.

“On the executive side, the Minister of Budget and Planning is from the North. He prepared the budget document for the country and could not have allowed the projected spending to be skewed against the North.

“As a competent public office holder, he must have put in his best to deliver a budget that addresses the developmental needs of the country. Even if the other stakeholders in the budgeting process colluded to skew the budget against the North, President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as a true nationalist would not have allowed anything that would undermine the North.

“We would like to remind Nigerians that Senators Forum were elected to represent the people of Nigeria. They must consequently work for the good of all Nigerians, regardless of their ethnicity or religion. Their utterances as leaders must therefore be well-guided at this point, particularly bearing in mind the peculiar challenges that the country is having to deal with,” he stated.

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