The fact that there was a leakage (from the roof) at the National Assembly on Tuesday is a clear testimony and confirmation that the building needs rehabilitation, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has said.
The legislative complex, he said, belongs to Nigerians and deserves to be rehabilitated.
He said this at the start of the plenary on Wednesday.
Mr Lawan was responding to a Point of Order raised by the Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, who faulted some reports of the leakage on Tuesday.
Mr Sabi had particularly picked holes in the report by Channels Television, which he said was infringed upon his privileges as a lawmaker.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the roof of the National Assembly began to leak shortly after the rain on Tuesday morning.
It was the main lobby of the building – between both chambers – that had water dripping from the top to other wings of the building.
The Press Centre, where journalists sit to monitor plenary, was also affected.
This was despite numerous budgetary allocations, amounting to billions, they have been made to the National Assembly specifically for renovations.
In his Point of Order, Mr Abdullahi said many issues raised in the Channels TV report, infringed on his privilege and his colleagues’.
“In that report, three things were reported that were very inaccurate, that there was heavy downpour or leakage in the chamber. That was not correct. There was leakage around the premises.
“It was reported that because of that leakage, it delayed our sitting. That also was not correct. The leadership had housekeeping matters and until the leadership enters the chamber, sitting would not begin.
“Thirdly and the most critical, was that the leadership approved N37 billion for the rehabilitation. This is nothing further from the truth.”
He explained that although N37 billion was approved for the rehabilitation of the building, the money was spread into different phases at N9 billion for each phase. This, he said, was because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his response, Mr Lawan warned against fake and inaccurate reports even as he said Tuesday’s incident was a confirmation of the need for rehabilitation.
“Let me also say that Channels TV reporter may not be responsible for that report, our members of the Press Corps are in tune with what we do here and what happens around us.
“Let me advise the media, this is irresponsible I must say, seek the truth, investigate properly before you compile and send your report.
“The fact there was a leakage to me is a clear testimony, confirmation and vindication of the position the National Assembly took initially. Everyone knows that this place is overdue for rehabilitation.
He further explained how President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the late chief of staff, Abba Kyari, to ensure that the fund was sourced and released for the project.
“When the N37 billion was approved, it was not a National Assembly budget, it was an FCDA budget.
“If this place leaks we are not holding our democracy with the respect it has. We expect the press to inform the people responsibly.
“This house is the house of Nigerians. It belongs to Nigerians and it deserves to be rehabilitated,” he said.
It is not clear how much has been released for the rehabilitation of the building so far. It is also not clear when the renovation would begin.
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