In this report, Benjamin Samson shares a broad cross-section of informed Nigerians of the N30.222 billion that has been set aside for the ongoing rehabilitation of the National Assembly complex amid dwindling revenue.
Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello recently stated that the ongoing rehabilitation of the National Assembly Complex will cost N30.222 billion.
He stated this when the FCT Senate Committee conducted a supervisory visit to various project sites under construction by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA) in Abuja.
Bello said the approval cost for the rehabilitation of Nas Complex by President Muhammadu Buhari was 37 billion naira which was included in the 2020 budget of the FCDA.
He said the amount was revised downward to NIS 9.25 billion in the revised 2020 budget to enable the FCDA to pay contractors, leaving a balance of N21.025 billion.
According to him, the total cost of rehabilitation works amounting to 30,229 and 290830.35 billion does not form part of the annual budget of the National Assembly of 128 billion naira as it has been included in some quarters.
He revealed that the duration of the contract, which was awarded on December 30, 2021, is two years.
He stated that the second phase of the National Assembly, popularly known as the “White House” had been completed from 1996 to 1999 by ITB Nigeria Ltd without any major rehabilitation work being carried out on the building over the years.
However, investigations by Blueprint Weekend revealed that in 2013, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) led by President Goodluck Jonathan approved N40.2 billion for the construction of Phase III of the National Assembly complex and the renovation of Phases 1 and 2 of the complex.
The plan reported on December 12, 2013, that the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Muhammad (currently Governor of Bauchi State), revealed the following: “We will close my National Assembly chambers for a period of 12 months and we are fortunate that we have already made large rooms available to the committees that will be Use them during the period until Parliament continues its work. The contract is worth 40.2 billion naira and will take 40 months to complete.”
Mohammed also said that work related to the third phase of the complex will include building a library, budget office, printing house, clinic, restaurants, banquet hall, houses of worship and a public hall (hall).
He added that at the end of the project, TV/radio/press facilities, fitness room, administrative offices, technical rooms, and meeting rooms will be available, while two of the rooms will be renovated.
However, Blueprint cannot verify whether the federal government has actually disbursed the said amount to renew the pool.
Likewise, over the years, Blueprint Weekend investigations have revealed that while the money may not be earmarked specifically for “renovating” the building, the National Society has received multiple funding for infrastructure improvements since 1999.
In the proposed 2017 National Assembly budget, the Senate allocated 1.25 billion naira for the purchase of security equipment. Apart from this, 440 million naira has been set aside for the same purpose under the capital expenditure of the National Assembly office.
Also, at the height of the scandal between the Eighth Assembly and the former Finance Minister, Kimi Addison, it was found that 454 million yen had been spent on office equipment and another 109 million yen had been paid to Navadee Integrated Nigeria Ltd for the ‘supply of ICT equipment’ at NAS.
Apart from the 250 million naira paid to DCN Nigeria Ltd for the “general renovation of the main building”, this newspaper also found that the National Assembly spent N578 million on renovating meetings and committee rooms.
Speaking to this reporter, Public Affairs Analyst, Mr. Tony Ademeloy, said that the provisions for the reform of the National Assembly are exaggerated, insensitive and harsh.
He said, “The recent budgeting of the National Assembly in the amount of N30 billion to replenish it is very insensitive and ruthless. Given the fact that this comes at a time when the economy is at its lowest point. It is very tragic that our legislators cannot spare a thought about the fluctuating economy Before embarking on such a shameful path.
“The paltry N30,000 minimum wage that even a family of three can’t, has yet to be paid by many of our governors and our legislators don’t seem to be a bit concerned. They have never been known to put pressure on governors to get state emperors to perform their constitutionally upheld duties. They simply do not care about the people who are supposed to be their elected representatives.
The National Assembly must rescind this resolution immediately because it is deeply anti-people, especially when we have been declared the Poverty Capital of the World. This complex was built with less than 11 billion euros barely two decades ago, and the enormous cost is simply unacceptable.”
Similarly, Save Nigeria Initiative (SNI) coordinator, Hilary Arochhukwu, told Blueprint Weekend that the project was a waste and a misplaced priority.
“Even in the best of times, the rehabilitation of the 30 billion naira National Assembly complex should provoke public outrage for what it is, a waste and a misplaced priority. The main roles of the House of Representatives in budget preparation are to review and debate the government’s advance budget draft (including revenue estimates and spending plans) and authorization of spending to implement the annual budget plan Parliament also reviews budget implementation and, in some countries, formally approves and disburses the government after the annual budget is implemented.
As such, no legislature in functional democracies has the power to arbitrarily allocate funds to itself. This is because budget preparation is so complex that most legislatures do not have the capacity to undertake the effort. Whatever the quantity, embarking on such a project to renovate its complex at a time of harsh financial conditions is insensitive, reckless and intolerable.
“What do the numbers say? Oil revenues in Nigeria have fallen by 80 percent and the country has run out of foreign exchange. As expected, the federal government cut the 2022 budget by more than N320 billion and lowered revenue forecasts by 40 percent.
The replenishment fund should have been used to improve health sector financing. It is now a top priority area globally as the coronavirus has exposed the shortcomings of health facilities, especially in Nigeria. The government’s annual budget for the health sector is barely 4.17 percent of the total national budget, which equates to only $5 per person per year.
“The whole process has once again revealed that the legislators are a selfish group, that does not respond to the aspirations of the people they allegedly represent. The whole project should be suspended. The pursuit of a National Assembly that is accountable and works in the interest of the country should be a national agenda.”
Similarly, a leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Nasarawa State, Mr. Ovi Att, described the $30 billion as an “unforgivable fraud plot” and the last straw for the blatant corruption of President Muhammadu Buhari. APC management.
He said it was untenable for Buhari’s presidency to propose a whopping N30 billion for renovation work on the National Assembly complex, which was built at a cost of N7 billion.
He said: “The excessive renewal figure is not only a sacrilege of holiness, but also confirms that the administration led by the People’s Communication Company is openly corrupt and only works to steal, drain and divert our national resources for the selfish purposes of certain individuals in the current administration.
N30 billion has been included in the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) budget as approved by President Buhari, leaving the burden of interpretation on Mr. President’s doorstep.
Therefore, I am instructing President Buhari to demonstrate the impartiality of his consent by promptly publishing a detailed analysis of the renovation project in line with his recent directives to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“President Buhari is requested to immediately publish details of the individual replenishment lines, amount and reason for each payment as well as contractors, beneficiaries and payment patterns for Nigerians to see if funds for the transfer have not already been broken down.
“I am tasking the National Assembly with standing up for the people using its legal legislative tools to carefully scrutinize the FCDA’s budget and to eliminate all built-in scams designed to do away with our nation.”
However, the legislative aide of one of the senators, Issa Gumo, threw his weight behind the estimated 30 billion naira to renew the National Assembly.
He told this reporter that a lot of renovation needs to be done in the Legislative Assembly, Abuja.
He said, “Where there are 109 senators with their lieutenants, you have 366 senators with their assistants and other employees in that district. By the time you put all these things into consideration, you will see that the amount people are complaining about is not enough.”
“The energy supply has not been stable and the National Assembly is still burning diesel. Part of the money will be used for alternative energy supplies and you know the cost of energy. So the budget is not bad. It is something that can help this country stabilize. If the National Assembly is not taken care of properly You will not have good laws.
However, Nasarawa State University’s Department of History and International Studies lecturer, Nangul Gagnab, said the project had to be spaced apart so that its funding would not be at the expense of other core projects.
He said, “The economy is bleeding and badly in need of restarting. We have now reached a point where we have to address the infrastructure gap. We have important projects like Niger II Bridge, Mambila Hydropower, East-West Road, Lagos – Kano Railway, among others. other.
Parliaments and executive lodges around the world are renovated when needed. But such projects as we have seen in the UK and Canada are so well planned and spaced out that their financing is not at the expense of other service delivery.
“The renovation at the Palace of Westminster, for example, which was approved in 2018, will begin in 2025, and span at least 10 years, according to British government records. The planned £4 billion renovation has been postponed in favor of a project Smaller worth less than 200 million pounds sterling.
“Public office holders sometimes choose to bill some renovations to their residences. President Richard Nixon, in 1969, paid for a table set aside for the White House. Barack Obama personally paid some of the costs of the renovations during his tenure. Donald Trump was quoted in Time magazine as having paid The price of a crystal chandelier in the dining room out of his own pocket.”