- FCT justifies planned renovation
There is disquiet over a plan by the federal government to spend N37bn in the renovation of a section of the National Assembly complex in Abuja to make the place “conducive” for lawmakers.
The money was captured in the N10.594 trillion 2020 budget signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.
Findings reveal that the National Assembly was built at the cost of $35.18m (N10.7bn) in 1999, meaning that the amount earmarked for the planned renovation is three times what it took to build the complex 20 years ago.
The leadership of the National Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration have justified the planned spending of the huge amount on the legislative building that houses the Senate and House of Representatives.
But many Nigerians, including economists, activists, businessmen and middle income earners who were spoken to yesterday, described the commitment of over N37 billion to renovation of a section of the National Assembly through a deficit budget as “misplacement of priority.”
Senate President Ahmed Lawan had on Monday confirmed the planned renovation while responding to enquiries after addressing pressmen on the achievements of the 9th Senate.
“When we resumed office, 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, Speaker of the House of Representatives and I,” he said.
According to him, “We had an exhaustive engagement. The Speaker and I later met with Mr President and we told him the situation of the complex.
“We told him that since the takeover of the complex, there was never, ever, any major rehabilitation or renovation – since 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,” he said.
Senator Lawan said after exhaustive deliberations, they resolved to embark on the renovation in phases.
“Eventually, we took what is required to renovate the 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,” he said.
Senator Lawan said it is not the National Assembly leadership that will carry out the renovation work but the FCT, adding that the building belongs to all Nigerians.
“All we require is to have the National Assembly complex renovated, including the reconfiguration of the two chambers and of the Press Centre.
“We have the opportunity, after 20 years, to embark on the renovation of phase one 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.