By Sunday Aborisade
The Senate yesterday threatened to arrest the management staff of Visible Concept, the construction firm, handling the N30 billion renovation work at the National Assembly if the project was not completed on schedule.
The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) had in March this year following serious dilapidation of the National Assembly Complex, awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of critical segments like the Senate and the House of Representatives chambers.
The contracts also covered the rehabilitation of the Dome in the White House as well as the construction of offices of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) and Library.
The projects would be delivered in phases between January and August 2023.
The Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, chaired by Senator Smart Adeyemi, gave the contractors handling the project marching orders yesterday to complete the job or risk arrest.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, had in June during the first on-the-spot assessment visit made by the Senate Committee on FCT, disclosed that the contractors, Messrs Visible Concept, had collected N9 billion mobilisation fee.
However, the site Engineer of Visible Concept, Tajudeen Olanipekun, during the second on-site visit by the Senate panel yesterday, demanded more mobilisation funds.
He spoke in the presence of the Executive Secretary of FCDA, Shehu Hadi Ahmad.
But the Chairman of the Senate panel, Adeyemi expressed serious worry at the slow pace of work.
Adeyemi said though the renovation works being carried out at both chambers were commendable, he noted with concern that the job might not be completed on the schedule based on its slow pace.
He pointedly told the contractor that except for a miracle, the January 2023 deadline for delivery of transformed hallowed chambers would no longer be feasible.
He 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.
“It will be a threat to democracy if this National Assembly project is not completed on schedule.
“If it is the money that would delay you from completing the project let us know; we can arrange for more funds. If you don’t finish this job as scheduled, we will ask Police to arrest you. This is because your action is an attempt by you to derail democracy. You seem to be playing games.
“The level of work seen here today is not pointing at that which to us, is a threat to our legislative duties and functions.
“The non-completion of this project at designated times is even a threat to democracy itself because we don’t want the incoming government to inherit it as an abandoned one.
“So, this committee wants to know challenges confronting the contractors as regards expeditious execution of the projects.”
In his response, the Site Engineer said fluctuations in the value of Naira to the US dollar have been problematic for them to import the required materials and equipment coupled with the need for more mobilisation funds from FCDA.
Not comfortable with the response, Adeyemi told the Executive Secretary of FCDA to get in touch with the minister for more funds for the contractors.
He said: “The Executive Secretary of 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 the problem to the incoming government.
“Even if it is a bond to be taken from a bank, let it be done for timely completion of the project, please.
“For us in the National Assembly, we want well-transformed hallowed chambers to be handed over by April 2023,” he said.