*Embarrassed by malfunctioning air conditioners, leaking roof
*…as Gbajabiamila directs clerk to write FCT Perm Sec
By Levinus Nwabughiogu & Tordue Salem, ABUJA
The House of Representatives has said it will today commence debate on the 2022 budget proposal presented to a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last week Thursday.
Recall that the budget size is N16.39 trillion.
The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who disclosed this at plenary yesterday, said the debate would continue tomorrow.
He said copies of the budget would be distributed to the members and directed interested lawmakers to submit their names to the House Clerk, Ben Akubueze.
Gbajabiamila also said that the time table for the budget defence with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of the Federal Government would be released today, adding that the House would adjourn plenary after the debate sessions to start the budget defence.
“We are going to distribute copies of President Muhammadu Buhari letter and budget to lawmakers.
“Members who are interested in debate on the budget as presented, the merits and demerits and the general principles of the Budget as presented by Mr. President.
“Please send your names to the clerk. We will be having the debate, two days. Wednesday and Thursday after which we will suspend plenary for work to start on the budget, the budget defence.
“The timetable will be released to the committees by tomorrow. So if you are interested send your names to the clerk today.
“Add the dates you’re interested in contributing. Whether Wednesday or Thursday, write it next to your name,” Gbajabiamila said.
Leaking roof, AC kaput
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives at yesterday’s plenary, said the National Assembly’s environment, especially the chamber, was becoming unbearable for them to function effectively.
They said the leaking roof of the building was also embarrassing to them.
The lawmakers expressed their dissatisfaction, following the malfunctioning of the air-conditioners in the chamber.
The speaker had earlier announced that debate on the N16.39 trillion 2022 would commence today, lamenting that members could not achieve that under the condition.
Vanguard can authoritatively report that the legislative chamber yesteray was very hot as everyone, even those at the gallery, sweated.
Moving a motion on Point of Order, Haruna Dederi (APC, Kano), said they were suffocating in the chamber.
He said: “Sir, Order 7 of the rules of this House has given you powers to absolutely control whatever goes on here to preserve decorum.
“To preserve the atmosphere within which we should operate. We are are suffocating because the place is extremely hot.
“In my opinion Sir, we could have a way of either adjourning the business of the day or give time so that the air conditioners can be put in proper shape.
“Whatever thing that you can do to save us from this physical situation in which we live.”
Reacting, the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, directed the Clerk of the House, Ben Akabueze, to ensure that the ACs were fixed for today’s plenary.
“It is a good point and it is something I just conferred with the deputy speaker. Clerk, please can you make sure the AC here is working tomorrow (today).
“We have to begin the debate of the budget and we cannot do it under this condition. It is very important and very imperative that it is working tomorrow,’’ the speaker said.
Hardly had Gbajabiamila finished giving the directive when the deputy minority leader, Toby Okechuckwu, spoke of the leaking roof.
He said: “Mr Speaker, you alluded to the inclement weather environment here and gave instructions that it should be done.
“I also want to mention that we are also challenged infrastructurally here.
“The other time we were fairly embarrassed by the roofs that were leaking and would expect that the landlord and the owners of the structure, which is the FCDA, take appropriate action to ensure we stay in a very clement environment to do our business.
“Because essentially most of the time Nigerians misread the occupants to be the person responsible for the structure.
“So if you look around you find out that this structure is heavily challenged apart from the cooling system.
“So, I think in addition to that appropriate action should be taken by the FCT administration to make adequate repairs and maintain the structure.”
Ruling on the issue, Gbajabiamila, again, asked the Clerk to formally write to the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, for renovation of the building.
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