Scandalous N37b for National Assembly Renovation
“Any country where the politicians are richer than the businessmen is a country on the verge of collapse.”
According to the 2020 budget signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, N37b was approved for the renovation of the National Assembly complex after lawmakers met him on the poor state of the Assembly complex in Abuja. Meanwhile, as the government is planning to execute the project with such a huge amount of 100m dollars on repairing one building, considering the true fact that we have so many infrastructures such as education, health, employment, roads, water, begging for funds in a rich country with a lot of natural mineral deposits untapped, wasting, while the structures are poorer, decrepit and the citizens are buried in absolute poverty even when India’s population is seven times that of Nigeria.
Minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, explained that the federal government is owing contractors working on federal road projects up to N306m while also defending government action to raise vat and borrow more money from financial institutions abroad.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, stoutly defended the allocation pointing out that no major renovation had been done on the Assembly complex for twenty years as many parts had become dilapidated. Well said. The renovation is scheduled for two phases. One, the complex is not under the control of the national assembly. The complex is a national asset and is for the FCDA to manage. Two, the complex is under the purview of the FCT. Lawan disclosed.
While funds may not have been assigned specifically for the renovation of the building, so far, the national assembly had received multiple funding for improved infrastructure and equipment since 1999.In 2013, the federal executive council approved a contract of N402billion for the construction of phase 3, part 3 of the national assembly complex and the upgrading of the Assembly’s two chambers.
Additionally, in the proposed national assembly budget of N1.25 billion part of it was meant to purchase security equipment by the Senate. Apart from this,N440million was also allocated for the same purpose under capital expenditure for the national assembly office.Also, at the peak of the scandal between the eight assembly and former finance minister, Kemi Adeosun,it was discovered that N454million was spent on office equipment and another N109 million was paid to Navada Nigeria Limited for ICT supply equipment to NASS. Aside a sum of N25million to DCN Nigeria Limited for general renovation of the main building.lt was also discovered that the national assembly spent N578million for the refurbishing of meetings and committee rooms. The House of Representative also paid H&H lnter-Biz Services N50million for the renovation of its committee rooms. Notwithstanding another painting
of committee rooms project worth N46million awarded to Jagsul Nigeria Limited. The Lower Chamber also awarded N39million for the replacement of public address system in its committee room to Dee Ex Associate Limited.
However, a member House of Representative, has opposed the plan to spend N37billion for renovating the assembly complex. Mr Bamidele Salami, representing Osun state and a PDP member and a former journalist stated that the legislature does not the amount being demanded apart from the upgrade in the audio and recording system. He advocated aggressively for the money to be invested in 370,000 small businesses that will yield 100k interest loan within 12 months rather than have one edifice swallow that large sum within the same period. For him, “If we mop up all the funds for renovating the presidential villa and other offices of political leaders and top civil servants, we will raise more than a quarter of a trillion that can be injected into SMEs”. He submitted.
Classically put, in Nigeria today, our politicians are rent extractors and contractors inside the federal government that is why we cannot produce higher values for a sustainable economic advancement. If not why agitate for N37billion? When the assembly complex was initially built did it gulp up to this amount then?.The answer is no.Even the White House in America will not gulp this amount for renovation.
As a country, we have one of the most expensive political system in the world, and the kind of money we spend on protocol can kill a normal economy. The system is designed only to share more money, and who gets more of what. That is why the political system is not working for the benefit of the Nigerian economy. Thus, we created an economic rule that follows a political philosophy of government of politicians, for politicians by politicians and their businesses friends.lt is not a government of the people and the Nigerian people. Exactly what the lawmakers are doing milking the system to their advantage through unbeneficial projects like the shameless renovation of the assembly complex which
is almost the budget of some neighbouring West African countries.
Nigeria has copied the Venezuelan model by neglecting highly profitable agricultural produce such as sesame seed. Venezuela has the largest crude oil reserve in the world like Nigeria, but every time oil prices goes South they cannot even buy milk on the streets of Venezuela, same thing with Nigeria. The lawmakers should think outside the box by making laws that will bring about genuine economic growth not the flamboyant dressing and exotic cars they display and large number of children and wives we see on Facebook and the social network.