Posted by News Express | 28 October 2019 | 750 times
Members of the House of Representatives and their guests from government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), have continued to conduct the ongoing budget defence under very unpleasant and un-conducive environment.
This is as the National Assembly Complex (NASS), especially, the House of Representatives wing grapples with the poor state of facilities at committee rooms and conference halls, forcing lawmakers to improvise in extreme circumstances.
The National Assembly Management and to some extent, in collaboration with the House Services committee is responsible for managing and maintaining facilities at the legislative complex.
The poor state of facilities at the Representatives’ wing has been a gradual occurrence, even at the twilight of the 7th Assembly under Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, during which Salisu Maikasuwa was Clerk to the National Assembly, and Mohammed Sani Omolori was Clerk of the House – whilst Yakubu Dogara was chairman, House Services Committee.
While the situation persisted in the 8th Assembly under Yakubu Dogara, during which part, Omolori became the head of National Assembly bureaucracy after the retirement of Maikasuwa, and Hon. Babale Illah from Kano was chairman House Services, the deterioration peaked with the packing up of the air-conditioning units at conference rooms 0.28 and 2.31, the two biggest conference halls at the Reps wing.
This deterioration was said to have been caused by the breaking down of the central air-conditioning system which supplies the committee rooms and conference halls, with the ones servicing individual members’ offices said to be the units independent of the central system.
In fact, under Yakubu Dogara as Speaker, some committee chairmen, such as Uzoma Nkem Abonta who was chairman, Committee on Public Petitions had to resort to procuring standing fans to ventilate their venues.
The situation has since progressed from bad to worse since the beginning of the 9th Assembly.
A tour of the meeting rooms and conference halls at the House of Representatives by Daily Independent in the course of the ongoing budget defence showed that almost all the meeting rooms and conference halls are without functional air-conditioning system.
The scenario has forced lawmakers and their guests to conduct proceedings under enduring heat and stuffy environment, capable of causing life-threatening health conditions such as heat stroke and convulsive perspiration.
It could also be recalled that when the House unveiled its Legislative Agenda in October 10, the Hon. Julius Ihonvbere-led committee had to make do with rented air-conditioning units to keep the 0.28 conference hall cool.
In the absence of such improvisation, many committee clerks would borrow standing fans from offices as a makeshift arrangement to keep the temperature down.
Findings by our reporter also revealed that ever since Julius Berger was disengaged from maintaining facilities in the complex, especially at the House of Representatives wing, state of amenities in the place has been on the decline with in-house technicians lacking the motivations and equipment to fill the empty void.
Disappearing Chairs: Worst of the situation is the lack of chairs in these conference halls and hearing rooms which has also forced many committee clerks to send their staff out scavenging for seats for their members, as well as invited guests.
Speaking to Daily Independent anonymously, some committee staff burdened with the task of getting chairs from external sources said many of the chairs in the meeting rooms have either been stolen, or removed by aides to lawmakers to their offices.
A survey of rooms 0.28 and 2.31 respectively, revealed that only 2 and 3 rolls have chairs out of the 9-roll sitting arrangement of 3 columns each.
Lawmakers and invited guests attending hearings or budget defence have had to remain standing until chairs are made available before cooling their heels.
Needless to say that journalists covering the assembly do their jobs while standing the entire duration of the event where necessary.
Another sorry state of affair in the complex is the breakdown of elevators both at the white house and the new building.
As of the time of filing this report, only one, out of the 4 elevators covering the lobby, the chambers and offices at the White House was functional. The two elevators used by lawmakers to access both chambers from the basement have been out of service for more than 4 years without being repaired nor replaced.
At the Reps wing of the new building, there are 14 elevators to carry members and non-members of the House. But 4 out of the 14 are permanently grounded, as many others render epileptic services due to constant power outages.
While the lack of or nonfunctional facilities may appear as obvious inadequacies one can easily highlight, there’s an equally disturbing trend that has to do with the hygiene of the place, as cleaners are having difficulties tending to the premises, especially the restrooms.
Most of the water cistern facilities in the restrooms are in bad shape, spilling water on the floors to compound the cleaners’ woes even after a tedious effort to keep the place clean. This situation has led to the shutting of most of the conveniences at the Reps wing of the White House.
Responding to Daily Independent via telephone, the former spokesman of the House, Hon. Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas (APC, Adamawa) said the House leadership is not oblivious of the state of facilities in the House.
According to him, the leadership is making arrangements towards getting them back in shape after the budget process is done with.
“You know the leadership just came on board. So we’ll give them time to settle down after the budget so that they can be able to put some of these things back in shape.
“As you know, they just took over, after which we were faced with the budget, so the task is enormous. So it should be after the budget that I expect leadership will work on it.
“And I know they are also making arrangements towards that, am aware of it. Yes, they are making arrangements to see that whatever they can be able to do to put things in shape is done” he said.
Attempts to speak to the chairman House Services committee, Hon. Wale Raji (APC, Lagos), were unsuccessful as he neither answered calls placed to his mobile phone nor did he respond to a text message sent to him since Thursday. (Independent)
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