NIGERIANS are living with too many shameful things happening within the circles where their affairs are governed. Leaders of the country abandon the health sector and fly to countries whose systems work to enjoy their services at the taxpayer’s expense, while doctors and other health workers are allowed to strike for over two months over poor welfare.
The latest show of shame is the leaking roofs of the National Assembly Complex, Abuja. Some months ago, workers at the complex were seen on live television scooping water from the floors of the lobby of the main legislative chamber. Rainwater showered down from the main dome, which is supposed to be the crowning glory of a major national monument.
One had thought that the two-month annual legislative recess which ended last week was an ample opportunity to fix the leakage with the princely sum of N9 billion earlier allocated to that purpose in the 2020 budget. It will be recalled that the National Assembly had earmarked N37bn for that project.
It took a national outrage for the cost to be slashed. Responding to the leakage, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, childishly claimed that the leakage in spite of the huge amount budgeted for the repairs justified the N37bn earlier earmarked.
We copied everything we are doing in Nigeria as a purported democratic entity from the advanced Western countries, especially the United States of America. In these countries, the legislative buildings are national monuments, and citizens are encouraged to visit them to buoy their national pride. They are also major tourist attractions. But our National Assembly Complex is like a fortress, with severe security measures to limit public access.
The United States Capitol Building which was completed in 1800 still looks as good as new because of excellent routine maintenance. But our own National Assembly Complex, which was completed in 1999 is already coming apart after only 22 years!
We agree with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, that the continued leakage of the roofs despite the amount voted for the renovation is “an important issue to us” as a nation. Has that money been spent? If so, how was it spent to leave the roof and dome in such a sorry state?
We disagree with Benjamin Kalu that it would require N37bn to renovate a complex that was built with N7 billion, the deteriorating value of the naira notwithstanding.
Nigeria is a poor country, yet we spend through the nose to carry out routine public works just because we have to accommodate the greed of politicians and public officials.
The leaking National Assembly roofs must be probed.