Saturday, October 19, 2013

Outrage Over Mark, Others’ Rejection Of N3bn Quarters

Senate President: David Mark
Prominent Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction with reports that the principal officers of the National Assembly rejected the official quarters built for them by the Federal Capital Development Authority, describing the project as a waste of money and another means of encouraging corruption.
This came as the principal members of the National Assembly denied ever rejecting any house.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, had at a news conference in Abuja last weekend, stated that the Senate President, David Mark, Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and their deputies, along with some other principal officers, had rejected the N3bn official quarters being built for them in Abuja.

Bala had cited insecurity and delay in ‘provision of infrastructure as reasons for the rejection of the official residential buildings. But the National Assembly claimed that the decision to abandon the buildings was that of the FCTA and not that of the presiding officers of the National Assembly.
However, notable Nigerians on Thursday condemned both the decision to build houses for the principal officers and the rejection by the principal officers. They claimed the development was iniquitous as it encouraged corruption.
A former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Festus Iyayi, said it was illogical for the government to build another set of houses for the affected officers of the Federal legislature only to sell to them again after the end of their tenure.
Iyayi, who was also a former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, recalled that the official quarters of the affected officers were sold to some of them in line with the government’s policy on monetisation.
Iyayi said, “The first question you have to ask yourself is what happened to the first houses for the principal officers of the house during the Olusegun Obasanjo era.
“I think they want the contract to build the houses. And I think it is wrong. You cannot sell the houses, and build another set.”
The former Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, Rotimi Fashakin, described the rejection of the building at Maitama extension and the move to build fresh ones as “immoral and iniquitous.”
He criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for allowing the corruption and waste of national resources by the FCT Administration and the National Assembly. He alleged that Jonathan supported the act because he needed the lawmakers to “do his rigmarole and chicanery on Nigerians.”
Fashakin stated that the executive, legislative and judiciary organs of government were so corrupt , adding that the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, was correct when he said that 25 per cent of the national budget was consumed by about 500 Nigerians.
He said, “I am not surprised the President gave anticipatory approval for the building of new quarters for the National Assembly leadership because he needs them to do his rigmarole and chicanery on Nigerians.
A former member of the House of Representatives and the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance in the 2003 governorship election in Imo State, Mr. Uche Onyeagucha, described the action of the National Assembly leadership as insensitive, unacceptable and deserving of a revolt.
The former lawmaker urged Nigerians to rise against the recurring incident of abuse of office by political office holders.
He said that Mark and other principal members of the National Assembly had bought the official residences for the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives.
“I think it is the height of insensitivity that the Senate President and the Speaker are rejecting the houses in the midst of the mounting poverty in this country.
“It needs to be pointed out that the previous houses for principal officers are still good enough for their habitation. They actually set about building these ones to enable them to buy the previous ones.”
But speaking on behalf of the principal officers, the Chairman, Committee on House Services, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, who claimed to have attended the meeting where the FCTA officials briefed lawmakers on their change of plans, told Saturday PUNCH that it was the minister of the FCT that mooted the idea of discontinuing with the project due to security reasons.
He said, “This was entirely the idea of the FCTA minister. Obviously, there was no contribution from the leadership of the National Assembly at the meeting where he briefed members on this issue.”
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Mr. Paul Mumeh, dismissed the allegations against his principal as false.
He said, “To the best of our knowledge. There is no iota of truth in it (allegation).”
FCTA minister had said that the President of the Senate, Dr. David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, rejected the N3bn official quarters for principal officers of the National Assembly because of security reasons.

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