Since the National Assembly (NASS) approved N37billion in
the 2020 budget for the renovation of the NASS complex, there have been arguments over the appropriateness or
otherwise of the amount.
As opinions on the issue oscillate, various camps or divides
are being formed in defence of their respective positions the lawmakers have
insisted that the humongous sum for the project wasn’t misplaced. As the debates and arguments surge furiously
on all sides, there seems to be no meeting point on the issue.
When the NASS legislators sacrificed their annual vacation
to approve the 2020 budget, some thought it was done squarely for national
interest and to return the country to the January to December budget cycle.
They were hailed for a sacrificial act. But their real intentions were
discovered with their insertion of N37 billion in the budget.
It is difficult to understand how the federal lawmakers
arrived at the figures without a deep reflection the nation’s battered economy
which has always been at the butt of global economic rankings. Is it not
surprising that despite the belt-tightening homily by President Muhammadu
Buhari, the lawmakers could still propose such a prodigious amount for the
renovation of the NASS complex?
It seems the NASS lawmakers who claimed to understand
Nigeria’s economic problems in their 2019 election campaigns, have suddenly
lost touch of what this nation of over 180 million people is experiencing. Why
have they chosen to close their eyes to the economic realities and shameful
waste of our resources?
Although current oil prices appear favourable, where were
these lawmakers when the World Bank forewarned that Nigeria’s economy could be
at great risk should oil prices fall to the level they were in 2016? Besides,
in arriving at the decision to spend that much on the renovation of the NASS
complex, the lawmakers could have considered our rising debt profile and the
amount used to service it. Why did these factors fail to feature in their
The truth is what the lawmakers are asking for is more than
an upgrade. It is an outright reconstruction or rebuilding of the complex. That
is why when Nigerians criticized the proposal, the criticisms were dismissed,
especially by the senators. Anyone who has seen the NASS structure in Abuja of
recent would agree that the edifice is not
doesn’t require such volume of renovation or reconstruction.
This is not the first time federal lawmakers have been
criticized by Nigerians for their spending habits in a dwindling economy like
ours. A few months ago, senators where criticized over the plan to purchase
SUVs that would cost the nation N5.5billion.Those vehicles were purchased in
the face of cheaper alternatives. It is sad that these federal legislators,
rather than act in ways that would benefit the country economically, indulge in
wastes that have always earned them storms of criticisms.
Our federal lawmakers have to purge themselves of the
arrogance of power and denigration of the opinion of Nigerians as such
arrogance arouses the anger of
Since the advent of the present administration, there have
been excessive dependence on foreign and domestic borrowings.The question the legislators ought to ask is
whether it is profitable to borrow, not for the development of the nation, but
for white elephant projects that add no value to the economy such as the one
the reconstruction or renovation of the NASS Complex.
It is better to invest such money more widely in small scale
businesses that can get several Nigerians employed than expend it on an
unbeneficial single project. The controversy clearly indicates that we haven’t
got our priorities right.