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Senate, FCDA trade words over leaking National Assembly roof

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The National Assembly cleaners mopping the floor as rain flooded the lobby from a leaking roof that disrupted plenary session in Abuja yesterday. Photo Lucy Ladidi Ateko

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The Senate, yesterday, blamed the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA) for not renovating the National Assembly complex since it was built.

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The FCDA, in turn, blamed the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the delay in awarding a contract for rehabilitating the roof of the complex.

FCDA Public Relations Officer Richard Nduul specifically blamed the difficulty in getting FEC approvals. He said this explains why no contract has been awarded to any company for maintenance.

Leaks from the roof of the building had disrupted the plenary session on Tuesday. The incident, which followed a downpour, occurred at the ‘White House’, the portion of the Assembly housing both upper and lower legislative chambers. Many lawmakers were stranded for some minutes before the rain subsided. The lobby of the Assembly became impassable while cleaners were immediately mobilised to clear the pool.

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Reacting to reports on the incident, Senate spokesman, Surajudeen Ajibola, said the National Assembly administration and its leadership are not responsible for maintenance and renovation of the complex.

He said if there is any blame to be apportioned, it should be directed at the FCDA, which is responsible and not the leadership of the Assembly as falsely reported.

He said the N37 billion set aside for the renovation of the complex had not been received. He noted also that the complex has not witnessed any major maintenance or overhaul since it was constructed.

He explained that the said amount was reduced to N9 billion after the outbreak of COVID-19. “Even with this reduction, the sum of N9 billion or any amount is yet to be cash-backed or released to the National Assembly. None of this amount is even appropriated for the National Assembly bureaucracy or its leadership,” Ajibola said.

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He added: “It must be reiterated that the National Assembly complex is a national monument, which falls under the control of the Federal Capital Development Agency. In essence, the FCDA is responsible for its maintenance as well as renovation and not the leadership of the National Assembly as being falsely bandied.

“The leakage witnessed at the foyer of the National Assembly, yesterday, justifies the apprehension of the leadership of the National Assembly and the FCDA and further underscores the need for an urgent intervention in revamping the dilapidated structures within the complex before it falls into further dilapidation with the attendant huge cost of a possible replacement.”

The Senate meanwhile vowed yesterday to publish the names of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government sabotaging the audit process and anti-corruption war.

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This was part of the chamber’s initial response to a report presented by the committee on public accounts, which contained detailed information on how MDAs frustrate audit.

Most of the agencies, according to the chairman of the committee, Matthew Urhoghide, failed to defend queries raised against them by the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF).

He said the agencies are: Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Police Force, Federal Fire Service.

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Others are Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Ministry of Police Affairs as well as Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (Information Sector).

Senate President Ahmad Lawan who was visibly angry said the time had come to publish the names of the MDAs. “If someone thinks he is not going to be accountable, then that person has no business remaining in office,” he said.

The Senate also passed a bill seeking to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

A bill seeking the establishment of the Federal College of Education, Gwoza, in Borno State was also approved.

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