N37bn renovation: Sue FCDA not NASS, Senate replies SERAP

The Senate, on Monday, denied any involvement in the proposed N37bn for the renovation of the National Assembly complex by the Federal Capital Development Authority.

SERAP had filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to restrain the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) the leadership of the National Assembly and others from releasing N37bn allocated for the renovation of the complex, until an impact assessment of the spending was carried out.

The group is also seeking a court order to “restrain, prevent and stop the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, and the FCDA from demanding or collecting the money  earmarked for the renovation of the complex.

But the acting Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, in an interview with journalists on the premises of the Senate on Monday, said the leadership of the National Assembly only informed the owners of the complex when the structure gave signs of collapse.

He said, “I have said this before that this issue has nothing to do with the National Assembly; it is all about the Federal Capital Development Authority.  The building belongs to the FCDA, which built it.

“The FCDA management knows how much it needed to fix the complex which is in a dilapidated condition.”

Reacting to the legal action filed by SERAP and others on the issue, the Senate spokesperson wondered what the groups would be telling the judge because the leadership of the National Assembly had nothing to do with the project.

Akwashiki said, “I read it online that SERAP and some groups are taking the National Assembly to court over the N37bn earmarked for the renovation of the complex. I don’t know why they should take us to court because the National Assembly complex belongs to the FCDA and its management is in charge of its renovation.

“The only responsibility of the leadership of the National Assembly is to inform the President about the condition of the building which could collapse anytime if not immediately renovated.

“The President will then ask the owners of the complex to send their technical officers, the architects, structural engineers to investigate the conditions of the building.”

He added, “How the team from the FCDA arrived at the cost of N37bn is not the business of the National Assembly. It is purely the issue of the FCDA. It is the FCDA that will award the contracts.

“A single naira from the N37bn will not come to the National Assembly accounts; everything is going straight to the FCDA.

“In the past 20 years, the structure has not been renovated. I don’t know why we are being dragged to court. Is it an offence to draw the attention of the owners of the complex to the fact that their building needed an emergency attention to avoid disaster?”

The Senate spokesperson however said the leadership of the National Assembly and the management of the FCDA could review the project by spreading the cost in subsequent budgets and carry out the renovation in phases.

He said, “Based on the outcry that the issue has generated, it is possible for the National Assembly to suggest that the renovation be done in phases over a period of time.”

<<Punch>>