Lawmaker opposes N37 bn NASS renovation fund

A member of the House Representatives, Bamidele Salam, has opposed the plan to spend N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex.

Mr Salam, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), represents Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency of Osun state.

“I am a member of the National Assembly but I sincerely do not think we need a N37 billion renovation of that edifice. Apart from the chambers of the NASS which need some upgrade in the audio and 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,” he said.

He also said he will advocate this on the floor of the House of Representatives when the House reconvenes in January.

“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 too late to change a wrong policy,” Mr Salam emphasised.

According to the 2020 budget signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the renovation of the National Assembly complex is set to gulp ₦37 billion.

The allocation was first mentioned by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who said President Buhari approved the amount after lawmakers met with him to explain the poor condition of the legislative building in Abuja.

The government planned to spend the equivalent of $100 million on repairing just one building, many infrastructure, hospitals and schools across the country remain in terrible shape.

This has angered many Nigerians who stormed social media to question how much would be required to build a new National Assembly if mere repairs cost that much.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had earlier said the government owed contractors working on federal road projects up to N306 billion. He defended why the government should raise VAT and borrow more.

“If we had N1 trillion to spend on Nigerian roads we would be in a much better position. As of October, we were owing contractors N306 billion and more bills are coming in and all we got was N73billion,” he said.