The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory on Saturday expressed dissatisfaction with the slow pace of work in the ongoing renovation of the National Assembly complex.
The chairman of the committee, Smart Adeyemi, who led some of his members and the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority, Hadi Ahmad, to the site, said the quality of work done was impressive but it was doubtful if the contractor would be able to complete the work on schedule.
Following complaints of dilapidation by lawmakers in the two chambers, the FCDA in March, 2022 awarded a N30bn contract for the rehabilitation of critical segments like the Hallowed Chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Dome in the White House as well as the construction of an office for the National Assembly Service Commission and a library.
The FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, disclosed in June during a joint on-the-spot with the committee members that the projects would be delivered between January and August, 2023 and that the contractors would be paid N9bn mobilisation fee.
However, in his charge to the site engineer, Tajudeen Olanipekun, on Saturday, Adeyemi said, “This project must not be abandoned in any way. The Hallowed Chambers are expected to be completed and delivered by the end of January 2023, but the level of work seen here today is not pointing at that, which to us, is a threat to our legislative duties and functions.
“Non-completion of this project at designated dates is even a threat to democracy itself because we don’t want the incoming government to inherit it as an abandoned project. This committee wants to know the challenges confronting the contractors as regards the expeditious execution of the projects.”
Responding to the queries, Olanipekun blamed fluctuations in the value of naira to the United States dollar for the delay. He said this had hampered the importation of required materials and equipment, in addition to the need for more funds from the FCDA.
Adeyemi, in a swift response, asked the FCDA executive secretary to get in touch with the FCT minister for more funds to be released to the contractors.
He added, “As the Executive Secretary of the FCDA and Chief of Staff to the Minister, you have heard the contractor. Please give them more money for this project because we don’t want to hand over an uncompleted project to the incoming government.
“Even if it (funds) is to be taken from a bank, let it be done for the timely completion of the project, please. For us in the National Assembly, we want a transformed Hallowed Chambers to be handed over latest April, 2023.”
Lawmakers present included senators Lekan Mustapha, Danjuma Laah, Jibtin Isah, and Michael Nnachi.