OrderPaperToday- The Parliament is an important part of any democracy, more so in the three-pronged arms of government operated in Nigeria. The legislature takes a place of pride alongside the Judiciary and Executive in directing the affairs of the country. Given this importance, one would expect a fitting structure for legislators to carry out their constitutional duties. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Bauchi State.
Nigeria’s federal legislature is domiciled in the National Assembly Complex in Abuja. According to Wikipedia, the complex was constructed at an initial cost of $35.18 million between 1996 and 1999. The massive structure has undergone several maintenance work and renovations since it was opened.
A similar parliamentary structure is replicated in all 36 states of Nigeria as State Houses of Assembly. Although one would not ordinarily expect a structure as elegant as the National Assembly Complex in all the states, it still expected that a well-maintained edifice befitting for the legislature is obtainable across the nation.
The Bauchi State House of Assembly is located on a large expanse of land along Gombe Road, Bauchi. However, the current infrastructural state of the Assembly leaves much to be desired as the structure is in dire need of intervention following several years of apparent neglect. In this special report we take a look at some of the structural and maintenance problems besetting the Assembly.
To say some of the roofs in the assembly complex are leaking is to put the situation mildly as many roofing parts have been completely blown off. A badly damaged gate roof greets you as you enter the Assembly premises and poor roofing is the theme of the story in other structures within the Assembly compound.
The most affected section is the wing of the complex that houses important administrative offices, including the office of the House Minority Leader as well as important Committees such as the Committee on Public Accounts.
The situation has been compounded by the current raining season as the floors are logged with water which makes walking through some parts of the building an unpleasant experience.
Speaking to OrderPaper Nigeria, a staff of the Assembly who pleaded anonymity blamed natural causes for some of the damage done to the Assembly’s roofing, specifically the killer winds that swept through Bauchi in June this year.
However, a closer examination of the roofing structure of the Assembly reveals that it is old and worn out, hence at the mercy of such storms.
Overgrown Vegetation and fading walls
Strolling through the environs of Assembly, one cannot help but wonder if there is a body charged with maintaining the area at all. Some sections of the compound can only be described as “mini-forests” with 1.5 metre tall grass coating the entire landscape.
The current surroundings present a conducive habitat for dangerous reptiles to breed, posing a significant risk to Honourable Members, members of staff who work within the institution and the general public .
OrderPaper Nigeria also observed that the paintings on the Assembly structures are fading away, leaving the buildings looking severely unattractive.
The investigation by OrderPaper Nigeria revealed that the conversion of fences around public and private buildings into campaign tools is common practice in Bauchi State.
However, one would have expected that an important state institution such as the State Assembly will be spared of such poorly executed partisan actions. Unfortunately, this has not happened.
Regrettably, the fence of the Assembly has been completely defaced with campaign markings for prominent citizens such Speaker Yakubu Dogara and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar among others. “Atiku 2019” and “Sai Dogara 2019” which can be loosely translated as “Dogara for victory in 2019” are some of the markings boldly marked on the fence of the State Assembly.
Cracks, Animal dung and debris
The ageing walls protecting and holding up parts of the Bauchi State Assembly structure display visible cracks and risk giving way if they are left to continue depreciating. Also, the floors within the Assembly are crying out for urgent attention as some of the tiles have started to come off.
The poor maintenance of the Assembly is even more evident in the presence of animal droppings on the floors of the administrative building while some of the debris from the crumbling walls and dislodged ceilings also litter the floor.
Additionally, some sections of the floors were logged with water when the reporter visited the complex, which is not unconnected to the poor state of the roofing.
Hope for intervention? Assembly keeps mum
There is no doubt that the Bauchi State Assembly is in need of a significant structural overhaul as well as an effective maintenance system.
OrderPaper Nigeria contacted the spokesperson of the Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Bala to know what members were doing to improve the condition of the complex. Bala declined comment on the matter, instead he noted that it was the business of the clerk to attend to such issues.
Further enquiries by OrderPaper Nigeria revealed that the Clerk of the Assembly was not in the country. He is reportedly in Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.
For now, the only sign of renovation at the Assembly is an old and heavily rusted board with the inscription “Renovation of Bauchi State House of Assembly” as the Project Title.
The board, which was planted at the entrance of the road leading to the Assembly several years ago, is dangerously close to falling apart, a sign that it is also in need of “renovation.”