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Reps members defend N70b allocation as NASS renovation

IN the aftermath of the uproar surrounding the National Assembly’s N70 billion allocation in the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act, two members of the House of Representatives have defended the institution.

According to Peter Akpanke, who represents the Obanliku/Obudu/Bekwara Federal Constituency in Cross River State, and Dennis Agbo, who represents the Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency in Enugu State, the money will be used to renovate the new chambers.

“There is a lot of work to be done, if you go to the National Assembly, what is being renovated at the moment is the main chambers and we are using the temporary chambers,” Akpanke said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily today.

“Most of the members of the National Assembly did not return, most of us are new members. The offices need to be renovated, most offices are not in good condition and it is unfortunate that this was not done before we were sworn in.

“If you go to some places, you would see certain things that you won’t like, water is leaking in some places and all those things need to be fixed.”

Agbo, a Labour Party member, was in agreement with his peer that the National Assembly complex was in a dilapidated state and in need of renovation.

“As sessions come and go, the entire complex ages. No member is going to collect one naira, it is to improve the working conditions,” he said.

“If the cost of that renovation or improving the working conditions is considered too high by Nigerians, they have the opportunity to still query it through their representatives.”

Akpanke also maintained that the National Assembly leadership had a breakdown of how the money would be spent.

“Until the money comes, I think the leadership would give Nigerians a proper breakdown on how they intend to spend this money and how the money is spent,” he said.

According to him, the money approved was passed into the supplementary budget and has all its subheads.

He urged Nigerians not to be in a hurry to talk about the amount, but rather to follow up on how the money is being used.

Akpanke also argued that if the renovations are not carried out, or the staff allowance and cars are not purchased, he would speak up to Nigerians.

“I need a car, I need my office renovated. If the money is given to me to renovate my office, I will renovate my office and foot my bills. If the money is given to me to buy a car, I will buy a car and keep footing the bills,” he said.

“But if it is not spent for what is budgeted for, I will blow the whistle, the money has to be spent the way it has been budgeted for.”

When asked if it is too much to sacrifice for the majority of Nigerians who are living beyond the poverty line, the lawmaker said, “You need a good working environment, you need a car to drive to the office, you need an office to sit down to write your bills and motions, you need an office to receive your constituents and bring the dividends of democracy.”

Yesterday, the Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, stated that none of the N70 billion intended to “support their working conditions” will be distributed to members of the national parliament.

Adaramodu said in a statement that the amount will be used to purchase furnishings and carry out repairs in lawmakers’ offices.

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