More Criticisms has continued to trail the proposed spending of N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex as two lawmakers goes against the decision.
Akin Alabi from Egbeda/Ona Area Federal Constituency, Oyo State and Legor Idagbo from Bekwarra, Obanliku and Obudu Federal Constituency, Cross Rivers State, said spending such amount on the renovation is in not in the best interest of the country.
Alabi, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, in a tweet said there was “no reason” the National Assembly should spend such to renovate the complex.
“Yes, we need an upgrade on some aspects like the electronic systems (sound system, voting system etc) as they are outdated but N37b? No. Let’s spend that on our schools and hospitals,” Alabi tweeted.
Alabi revealed that the budget was not debated nor discussed at the National Assembly.
“It was not discussed on the floor of the house. Renovation of National Assembly is not debated on the floor of the house,” he said while answering queries from one his followers on why he had not stood against while the budget was presented in the House.
Also, Idagbo, a member of Peoples Democratic Party, said the lawmakers complex does not “needs any renovation that would cost the country N37bn.”
“We need more upgraded classrooms and hospitals to cater to the Nigerian people,” Idagbo also opined.
Their disavowal of the budget for the complex renovation came a few hours after the another House of Representatives member Bamidele Salam, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party representing Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency said the National Assembly does “not need a 37 billion Naira renovation of that edifice.”
“Apart from the Chambers of the NASS which need some upgrade in the audio and recording system, the entire structure needs no renovation more than our classrooms, hospitals and roads which are mostly in a decrepit condition,” Salam said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Salam said he will put opinion forward on the floor of the House of Representatives when the House reconvenes in January.
Meanwhile Rights groups and 583 concerned Nigerians have filed a suit seeking to halt the release of the N37 billion allocated for the renovation of the National Assembly complex to the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and the National Assembly leadership pending the impact assessment of the spending.
The civil society organisations, which include the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough (EiE), are asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to “restrain and stop President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, from releasing the allocated sum.”
The groups are also seeking an interlocutory injunction to “restrain, prevent and stop the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the FCDA from demanding or collecting the N37 billion earmarked for the renovation of the National Assembly complex until an impact assessment of the spending on critical sectors and access to public goods and services are carried out.”
In the suit number, FHC/ABJ/CS/1633/2019 filed last weekend, the plaintiffs argued: “The National Assembly complex should be a safe and conducive environment for those who work there. But spending N37 billion to renovate the place is not commensurate with the constitutional commitments to public services and goods; decreasing public revenues and increasing level of debts as well as the poor economic and social realities in the country.”
The motion on notice, filed by Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi read in part: “The defendants are public officers who have sworn to the constitutional oath of office to perform their respective duties in the interest of Nigerian citizens. The refusal of President Buhari to object to the budget/appropriation bill containing a huge N37 billion on the renovation of the National Assembly complex is a gross violation of the constitution and existing laws in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved ₦37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex. The allocation was first mentioned by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who said Buhari approved the amount after lawmakers met with him to explain the poor condition of the legislative building in Abuja.
The budget has since attracted widespread condemnations from many Nigerians who took to social media to speak against such spending by the lawmakers.
Lawan, in the defence of the budget, told journalists that no major renovation had been done on the National Assembly property for 20 years and many parts of the property had become dilapidated.