Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday said that the National Assembly Complex is overdue for rehabilitation, adding that the leakage and flooding of the complex vindicated the position of his leadership.
Lawan spoke following a point of order moved by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Abdullahi had complained that some media reports about the leakage and flooding of the chambers due to a heavy downpour on Tuesday were full of inaccuracies and therefore impugned the integrity of lawmakers.
While citing orders 14 and 15 of the Senate Standing Orders, Abdullahi said: “The issue of the rainfall as it happened Tuesday which was heavy was reported in various media. However when I listened to the reportage on the Channels Television, there were many issues that were raised in their report that I felt has impinged upon my privilege and of course, the privilege of my colleagues.
“In that report, three things were reported which were very inaccurate. That there was heavy downpour or leakage even in the chamber. That was not correct. There was leakage of course around the premises outside the chamber. Also it was reported that because of that leakage it delayed our sitting. That also was not correct.
“The leadership had house-keeping matters and of course, until the leadership comes into the chamber sitting will not begin. Thirdly and the most critical was that they reported the sum of N37billion has approved for rehabilitation of this building. This is nothing further from the truth.”
He added: “When the Ninth Senate came on board, the leadership noticed dilapidation and the need for the rehabilitation of the National Assembly complex.
“The Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives approached Mr. President to report this matter and we were all briefed that Mr. President was willing to ensure that something is done about it.
“As we all know when the sum of N37billion was made as provision in the initial 2020 budget, the media went to town castigating and calling the National Assembly members all sort of names.
“Now at the end of the day it was reduced to N9billion in view of the pandemic. So that they can take the rehabilitation in phases. As we speak nothing has been done until Tuesday as we all saw leakages across the complex.
This is a vindication of what the leadership and indeed the Senate and members of the House of Representatives saw with respect to this edifice.”
In his remarks, the Senate President said the leakage and flooding of the foyer of the National Assembly witnessed on Tuesday was a vindication of efforts being made by the leadership to get the complex rehabilitated.
Lawan said: “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. We went to see Mr President and he was gracious and he asked us to meet with FCTA, the owners of the building.
“Myself, the Speaker, late Chief of Staff and Minister of Finance met to look for money for the rehabilitation of the National Assembly.
“When the N37billion was approved it was not a National Assembly budget, it was an FCDA budget.
“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.”