Following rains in Abuja Tuesday, it was discovered that the roof of the National Assembly Complex was leaking, letting in enough rainwater and flooding parts of the building enough to delay proceedings for the day. Daily Trust reports on the outrage that trailed what a CSO described as a “national embarrassment.”
Activities at the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly were disrupted on Tuesday following a flood incident and leakages that occurred at the parliament building in Abuja.
The lobby of the National Assembly was flooded due to the leaking roof of the White House, which houses the two chambers.
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The lobby of the complex became impassable at about 11 am as cleaners were immediately mobilised to divert the water and clean up the place.
Though the incident did not stop plenary, lawmakers were forced to wait at the lobby for some time before proceeding to the chambers for Tuesday’s session which began almost an hour behind schedule.
Besides the lobby, which was flooded, water from the leaking roof had pooled in adjourning areas including the Press Centre used by journalists.
The incident happened despite billions of naira voted for the general maintenance of the National Assembly complex over the years.
The maintenance is handled by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), an agency under the FCT.
In 2019, there was public outrage over the approval of N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly.
In the 2021 Appropriation, the federal lawmakers also increased their budget to N134 billion, an increase of N6 billion to the N128 billion proposed for the National Assembly. Out of the sum, N9.134 billion was earmarked for General Service.
Reacting to criticisms that trailed the approval of N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex, Senate President Ahmad Lawan had said, “When we resumed office (at) the National Assembly Complex, we noticed that many parts of the National Assembly complex were dilapidated.
“We convened a meeting involving the management of the National Assembly, the Federal Capital Development Authority, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and I.
“We had an exhaustive engagement. The Speaker and I later met with Mr President and we told him the situation of the complex.
“Since the takeover of the complex, there was never, ever, any major rehabilitation or renovation 20 years ago.
“Mr President responded by telling us that he was going to renovate the National Assembly.
“We went back to continue the engagement with the National Assembly management and the FCDA.
“Eventually, we took what is required to renovate phase one of the project.
“This includes the two chambers, the dome and other committee rooms and offices within the White House.
“N37bn was sourced and was approved and put under the FCT, not under the National Assembly.”
Lawan, who had said that the project would be executed by the FCDA because the National Assembly is a national monument, added that “All we require is to have the National Assembly complex renovated, including the reconfiguration of the two chambers and the Press Centre.
“We have the opportunity, after 20 years to embark on the renovation of phase one (of the) building of the National Assembly. When we are through with phase one, we will go to phase two.
“The National Assembly complex is a national asset being managed by the FCDA,” he said.
When contacted, Special Adviser on Media to the FCT Minister, Abubakar Sani declined to comment.
Sani, who picked his call earlier however cut off the conversation mid-way after being asked about the incident and declined to take subsequent calls to his line.
It’s a national embarrassment – CISLAC
The Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, described the incident as a “national embarrassment” and called for a probe into spending for the National Assembly’s maintenance.
He said for such to have happened at the National Assembly shows the high level of neglect of maintenance culture by those in public offices in the country.
“I want to express shock and surprise over the incident, that despite the huge amount of money spent on the maintenance of the National Assembly, the management of the National Assembly, particularly, the Works and Maintenance Unit did not foresee this problem until when we got this national embarrassment.
“What has happened is a national embarrassment and it shows how some people in public offices handle things.
“The culture of maintenance in our country has disappeared and that is why everything is about giving contracts because that is where they siphon taxpayers’ money.
“There is supposed to be a department in the National Assembly that is supposed to look into the issues of maintenance of facilities and buildings. If that department exists and they are supposed to carry out maintenance and they did not do that, it is quite unfortunate and it shows that the culture of maintenance has gotten to a worrisome level.
“The public officials have turned everything in Nigeria into a contract, otherwise, you cannot have a department that is responsible for maintenance and they have not done anything until we witnessed this national embarrassment.
“This should not happen again and the department responsible should actually explain to Nigerians. The management of the National Assembly needs to explain what they have been doing with the resources.
“The National Assembly needs to interrogate the FCDA for keeping taxpayers’ money without utilizing it.
“We need to know who is responsible for maintaining the facilities and buildings at the National Assembly.
“It is an opportunity for the National Assembly to interrogate and ask questions if they have provided resources and the resources have not been utilized.
“As far as I am concerned, the National Assembly cannot be completely exonerated from this embarrassment because you can’t just provide resources without actually investigating what has been done with such funds,” he said.
Senate blames FCDA
The Senate urged the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCDA) to expedite action on the renovation of the National Assembly complex to stop the leaks.
Senator Sani Musa, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Services, said this when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
“We know that the complex was handed over to the National Assembly Management but yet we requested that the renovation should be undertaken by FCDA.
“The FCDA has done the needful; they have called for bids; they have done all the necessary things; they have gone to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) and No Objection Certificate has been issued,” he said.
Musa added: “Surprisingly, however, when it got to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), one of the ministers made a remark which made the president ask for the review of the whole process and today, you can see what is happening with the complex.
“It was flooded, everywhere is leaking. I will call on the FCDA, I will call on FEC to take a look at our submissions and do the needful.”