OrderPaperToday– More members of the House of Representatives have joined in the call for a downward review of the N37 billion earmarked for renovation of National Assembly (NASS) complex, saying it is unnecessary to expend such a huge amount of money on maintenance alone while Nigerians can barely afford for medical care.
Since the news of the proposed N37 billion renovation broke, some members, mostly of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), civil society organisations and other Nigerians have openly voiced their opposition mostly on their social media handles like Twitter.
Some have said the timing is wrong as a lot of Nigerians are wallowing in poverty, while others think it should not be a priority project.
According to Mr. Legor Idagbo ( PDP, Cross River), the sum could be channelled to renovating dilapidated classrooms across the country and upgrading hospitals to cater for teeming Nigerians who are in need of healthcare services.
He stated on his Twitter handle, “As a member of @nassnigeria, I don’t believe that the complex needs any renovation that would cost the country N37bn. We need more upgraded classrooms and hospitals to cater for the Nigerian people. -@HonLegor.”
Another member representing Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo federal constituency of Osun State, (PDP), Mr. Bamidele Salam, said, ” I am a member of the House of Representatives but I sincerely do not think we need a 37 billion Naira renovation of that edifice now.
“Apart from the Chambers of NASS which need some upgrade in the audio & recording system, the entire structure needs no renovation more than our classrooms, hospitals and roads which are mostly in a decrepit condition.
“As an advocate of an aggressive microcredit strategy for job creation, I would rather want to see 370,000 small businesses get 100k interest free loan within 12 months rather than have 1 edifice swallow that sum within the same period.
“If we mop up all funds voted for renovations of the Presidential villa and other offices of political leaders and top civil servants, we will raise more than a quarter of a trillion Naira that can be injected into SMES in the coming year.
” I will, by God’s grace, be making this open advocacy on the floor of the House of Representatives when the House reconvenes in January.
“It is never late to change a wrong policy!”
Meanwhile, Mr. Oloye Akin Alabi, representing Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal Constituency in Oyo (APC) also echoed the position of his colleagues that the allocated sum is too much.
“I see no reason why we should spend N37b renovating the National Assembly. Yes, we need 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.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has also lent its voice to the cry against the proposal.
It said on its official Twitter handle that the planned expenditure by the NASS renovation is wasteful.
The tweet read, “Spending ₦37 billion to renovate @nassnigeria complex is not commensurate with the constitutional commitments to public services & goods; decreasing public revenues & increasing level of debts as well as the poor economic & social realities in the country.
“Spending N37 billion to renovate the @nassnigeria complex is self-serving, wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional expenditure of public funds, as it means less money for educating millions of out-of-school Nigerian children.”
SERAP has since commended lawmakers who have risen against the move which was defended by the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, in a press briefing in December, 2019.
“Dear @akinalabi @armakado @bamidelesalamBS & O. Idagbo of @HouseNGR Nigerians would like to say a big THANK YOU for rejecting the N37bn to renovate the National Assembly.
Nigerians hereby invite you to join our suit as co-plaintiffs. Please let’s know & we’ll add your names,” the civil society organisation stated.