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Leaking roofs: Senate denies N37bn approval for NASS renovation



Leaking roofs: Senate denies N37bn approval for NASS renovation

Ahmad Lawan

Senate has denied media reports alleging that its leadership approved the sum of N37billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex.

This is even as the upper legislative chamber clarified that the Federal Capital Development Agency, FCDA, is responsible for the maintenance and renovation of the National Assembly adding that it has not received any amount for the renovation of the complex.

Raising Point of Orders 14 and 15 of the Senate Rules, the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi declared the media report as contemptuous and a breach of his privileges and that of members of the Red Chamber, lamenting that the falsehoods contained in the report by the Channels Television station, in particular was intended to denigrate the image of the National Assembly and incite Nigerians against lawmakers on the various social media platforms.

He particularly said that the issues reported by the Channels Television were inaccurate, stressing that though there was heavy rainfall and leakages of water outside the chamber, they didn’t affect plenary sitting by the lawmakers as erroneously reported.

Senator Abdullahi added that the most critical aspect of the report was that the leadership approved N37 billion for rehabilitation of the complex, which he said was farther from the truth.

He explained that the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives approached the President on the dilapidating state of the complex.

“At the end of the day, like we all know, when the sum of N37 billion was made as provision in the shared 2020 of the budget, the media went to town castigating and calling the National Assembly members all kinds of names.

“Now, at the end of the day, the pandemic came and that amount was reduced to about N9 billion so that they can take the rehabilitation in phases.

“As we speak, nothing has been done until yesterday, like we all saw, the leakages across the complex.

“This is a vindication of what the leadership and, indeed, the Senate and members of the House of Representatives saw with respect to this edifice which is a national monument,” he stressed.

Leaking roofs: Senate denies N37bn approval for NASS renovation

In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, described the report as irresponsible, adding that the media should seek clarification on matters of interest through proper investigations before filing reports.

While narrating the circumstances which led to President Muhammadu Buhari approving the renovation of the complex, he dismissed insinuations that the National Assembly was responsible for the implementation of the renovation of the complex.

The Senate President informed that he and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, on assumption of office, met with President Buhari on the need to renovate the complex, which he agreed and asked for the costings from the management –the technical side of the National Assembly and some contractors.

“Myself, the Speaker, the late Chief of Staff and the Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed met, and the meeting was to go and look for money to rehabilitate this complex.

“[And] for emphasis, when we approved the budget of N37 billion for the rehabilitation of this complex, it was not a National Assembly budget, it was an FCDA budget. We have nothing to do with this,” he said.

Lawan described the National Assembly as the house of the citizens of Nigeria, and the symbol of democracy, saying “if this complex leaks, the interpretation is we are not holding our democracy with the respect that it deserves.”

“This symbol of democracy must be protected, must be promoted and supported. In fact, the institution of parliament must be supported by citizens, and we expect the press to take a lead in informing the public properly and appropriately, he added.

Addressing journalists on the matter after plenary, the Senate spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru reiterated that the National Assembly complex is a national monument which falls under the purview of control of the FCDA, which is “responsible for its maintenance as well as renovation and not the leadership of the National Assembly as being falsely bandied about.”

“The leakage witnessed at the foyer of the National Assembly yesterday justifies the apprehension of the leadership of the National Assembly and the FCDA and further underscores the need for an urgent intervention in revamping the dilapidated structures within the complex before it falls into further dilapidation with the attendant huge cost of possible replacement,” he said.

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