Politics

We only informed President Buhari that the National Assembly building was collapsing. We did not propose N37billion for renovation – Senate

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says that the public outcry against lawmakers over the N37billion proposed for the renovation of the National Assembly is misplaced and unwarranted.

Senator Godiya Akwashiki, the acting Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, stated this during an interview with The Punch in Abuja.

According to the senator, the leadership of the National Assembly played no role in the approval, and the cost of the project.

The lawmaker further revealed that Senator Ahmad Lawan, the President of the Senate; and Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the National House of Representatives; only informed President Muhammadu Buhari that the 20 years old building needed renovation.

“The public outcry against the leadership of the National Assembly on the issue of the  N37bn National Assembly complex renovation project is not only misplaced but unnecessary and unwarranted.

“The building is the property of the Federal Capital Development Authority. The N37bn budget for its renovation is not even part of the 2020 budget of the National Assembly.

“It is the responsibility of the leadership of the National Assembly to inform the President of the country about the state of the complex and the dangers that the dilapidated condition poses to users of the building.

“The Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have done what is expected of them by informing President of the country that the building was about to collapse.

“It is the function of the FCDA, being owners of the complex, to invite experts and building technologists who will assess the condition of the building and come up with a realistic solution.

It is when they are convinced that the experts, based on their submissions, are capable of handling the project, that contracts would be awarded, following due process.

“They (FCDA management) will go through the public procurement process and ensure that the contractors are qualified to handle the job.

“No amount is going to the account of the National Assembly from the N37bn earmarked for the renovation of the complex.

“What then is the fault of the lawmakers or leadership of the National Assembly now? Is it because we allow the President to know that the building could collapse if not immediately fixed or what?

“Should we allow it to collapse to avoid public outcry?  If the building collapses God forbid, the President of the country and the general public would blame the National Assembly leadership and management for not raising the necessary alarm to prevent its occurrence.”

Speaking on the public outcry over the outrageous cost of the project, Senator Akwashiki said; “it is the FCDA that knows what to do and how much it would cost to fix the deplorable condition of the building.

“It is the executive arm of government that initiates projects, sends experts to do the estimate in terms of amount and materials needed.

“It is the FCDA that knows what to do and how much it would cost to fix the deplorable condition of the building.

“It is the executive arm of government that initiates projects, sends experts to do the estimate in terms of amount and materials needed.

“The project is not the business of the National Assembly, so the public outcry against the leadership of the National Assembly is unwarranted,”  he added.

The problem however is that the N37billion which was apparently proposed and approved by the Executive Arm of Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari was not rejected by the lawmakers during the approval of the budget.

Considering the suffering in Nigeria and the wide spread poverty, Nigerians expected the lawmakers who represent them at the top to reject the outrageous amount proposed for the project.

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