The Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi has said that the renovation of the National Assembly complex is long overdue, 20 years after it was built in 1999.
Speaking to Channels Television’s on its Politics Today programme, Senator Abdullahi stated that not much has been done to upgrade the building, owing to the level of legislation that is going on in it.
“When we came on board in this particular republic in 1999, the structures and every other thing that was put in place came in with the transition and since that time till now, it is on record that not much has been done to upgrade, renovate and to continually add value to that institution even as the legislature continues to evolve in terms of what it requires to carry out its democratic function.
“The idea of rehabilitating that particular complex is long overdue because this is 20 years now and there was no major rehabilitation done to the structure and it has been serving Nigeria from that period up till now.”
He insisted that the earmarked N37 billion is not on the high side because the appearance from the outside is contrary to what the inside looks like and the outcry by Nigerians is not relevant.
“What people see from the outside is not what that building is alone; you need to go inside to understand what that building is before you can think maybe what is being done is on the high side.
“Nigerians do not value the democratic process we have. If they do, they won’t be saying what they are saying.”
Holding a contrary view, a legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye, who was a guest on the same programme, stressed that the proposed sum is a sheer waste of resources, owing to the infrastructural challenges facing the country.
Mr Ogunye, while reiterating Senator Abdullahi’s claim that no major renovation has been done on the complex, gave examples of South Africa, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, whose legislative buildings have been existing long before the National Assembly complex.
“What is being proposed is sheer waste, profligacy, irresponsibility and I am saying this with all sense of responsibility.
“The deputy chief whip was referencing 1999 it has not been renovated, so we need this humongous amount, N37bn to renovate it and because they are legislators, that’s the nerve-centre of governance.
“This is wastefulness, what we are being told is just a metaphor, a national calamity; this Lagos-Ibadan expressway that has been stopped for years. This is not our priority; the money is going to be wasted. We don’t need that N37 billion,” he stressed.
When asked if the Senate plans to reduce the N37 billion for the renovation of the complex, Senator Abdullahi stated that it is not the responsibility of the legislature, insisting that the duty lies with the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA) who was mandated by President Buhari to carry out the renovation.
“When we complain, we have a right to do so. The National Assembly is not the one that put the budget there; it is the responsibility of the FCDA.
“I was in the eight Assembly and we were complaining that the structure is due for renovation. We couldn’t do anything because it’s not in our mandate to do that, it is the mandate of the FCT and FCDA.
“Mr President, seeing that this ninth Assembly is ready to work, was magnanimous in saying the FCDA should examine the complaints we are making and that’s what led to that particular budget,” he added.