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May 7, 2024

NASS: Complaints on renovated Chamber linger in Senate

NASS: Complaints on renovated Chamber linger in Senate

…As Whip describes it as Conference Room

By Henry Umoru

ONE week after fight over sitting arrangements, Senators have continued to complain about the renovated Chamber.

At the start of plenary yesterday, issues on alleged inadequacies in the Chamber were again raised, this time by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South.

Senator Ndume who raised the issues through Order 42 of the Senate Standing rules, said that what ought to be a Chamber, has been turned into a conference hall which according to him, is not acceptable.

Ndume said, “Mr President, I rise to make disturbing observations on this supposedly renovated chamber through order 42 that deals with personal privileges.

“Since day one, precisely last week Tuesday when we moved into this Chamber that supposed to have been renovated, there have been complaints here and there.

” First was on sitting arrangements, followed by echoing of voices by microphones that are even not audible. No voting device, required facilities not yet provided.

” We need to correct all these anomalies for the Hallowed Chamber to be what it supposed to be.”

In his response, the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio who agreed with Ndume, said that the observations were well noted and the point of Order, upheld.

He however explained to Ndume that complaints on sitting arrangements among Senators, have been sorted out 99.9%, just as he reminded him that contract for the renovation work was not done by the 10th National Assembly.

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He said, ” This is not our contract and not even National Assembly contract but that of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the landlord of the National Assembly Complex.

“Observations on inadequacies in the renovated chamber, are welcome from time to time for required perfection but what we should be aiming at in the long run, is for us, as federal lawmakers, to have proper autonomy on the National Assembly Complex and not continue as tenants of FCDA.”

Recall that Senate plenary was last week Tuesday, marred by complaints made by some senators on sitting arrangements in the renovated chamber.

The complaints led to a rowdy session which lasted for about 15 minutes and eventually forced the Senate into an executive session.

The Senators were using the renovated chamber for the first time on Tuesday and this is coming 19 months after the closure of the Hallowed Chamber.

Recall that both the House of Representatives and the Senate moved to temporary chambers in September 2022 after commencement of renovation work on their Hallowed Chambers by Visible Construction Company Nigeria Limited in July 2022.

The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) had in March 2021, awarded a N37 billion contract to Visible Construction Limited and some other firms for rehabilitation of critical segments of the National Assembly complex, construction of Library, permanent site for the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) etc.