September 16, 2015

Lack of funds halts N52bn NASS Legislative Village project

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJAThe ambitious N52 billion Legislative Village embarked upon by the National Institute for Legislative Studies, NILS, has suffered a serious setback due to lack of funds to prosecute the project as scheduled.

Construction work stopped in April, when the German construction firm pulled out its equipment and personnel from site due to non-payment for work already done.

The project, which is located on the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Highway, has only been allocated N18 billion out of the total cost of N52 billion and there were indications, yesterday, that some aspects of the works might be scaled down to save cost.

The Director-General of NILS, Dr. Ladi Hamalai, told journalists in Abuja that the project would also not be completed on schedule due to the issue of funding.

She said that the three-star accommodation, which was to be built as part of the complex, had been stepped down to reduce cost, while the private sector would be invited to render such services instead.

Hamalai disclosed, however, that the Legislative Complex would, on completion, be affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University and would serve as a major regional hub for legislative studies in Africa.

The DG also said NILS had so far trained about 359 personnel and was working hard to elevate the work of the institute to serve Nigeria and other countries better.

Hamalai said that between 2012 and 2014 NILS implemented 349 training programmes for legislators and legislative staff on policy analysis, bill scrutiny, bill and motion drafting, among others.

The DG said 353 motions and resolutions on national issues were taken in the House of Representatives between June 2012 and June 2014.

She, however, regretted that in Nigeria, resolutions and motions are not taken seriously by the government as they were not binding on the executive.

She said: “The greatest challenge to NASS resolutions is that the executive is not bound by such resolutions. In most countries NASS resolutions are not binding.”

Hamalai, however, defended the N120 billion allocation to the National Assembly, saying the amount was small compared to the country’s budget and enormous cost centres of the legislature. But she did not give a breakdown of what a lawmaker earns monthly.