Barring any change, President Muhammadu Buhari will in the first week of October present and lay before the two chambers of the National Assembly, the proposed N19.76 trillion budget for the 2023 financial year.
BusinessDay had reported that the federal government planned to spend N19.76 trillion in 2023, a 15.37 percent increase from the amount earmarked in the 2022 budget as well as a projected deficit of N11.30 trillion, 54 percent higher than the previous year’s budget estimated deficit.
Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives disclosed the time for the 2023 budget presentation during the inspection of the ongoing renovation work on House’s main chamber and adaptation of a temporary chamber as well as the construction of the National Assembly Service Commission office.
Gbajabiamila said, the temporary chamber will be ready for use when the House will resume from its two months recess next week Tuesday, September 2023.
With the ongoing renovation of the House’s main chamber which according to the speaker would last for about one year, hearing rooms 028 and 231 of House of Representatives Wing has been converted and upgraded into a chamber for plenary sessions and other legislative activities.
The main House chamber has been in a deteriorating state even before the lawmakers embarked on annual recess and last year, plenary activities were disrupted at some points due to leaking roof and faulty air conditioners.
This was even as the parliament had appropriated N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex, including chambers in the 2020 budget to be carried out by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
The amount was however reduced to N9 billion due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 which dealt a big blow to Nigeria’s economy, according to Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, Senate Spokesperson.
Gbajabiamila told journalists that renovation work on the chamber “started in August, it started few weeks behind time but for a good reason. So far, between August and now, giant strides have been made.
“You see that the old chamber have been ripped apart. The innovations are going to be like state of the art. We will at the end of the day be proud to have chamber that match the best standard all over the world. I’m quite impressed with the work so far. I will encourage them to double the pace. Because as it is, unfortunately or fortunately, this is not for the benefit of the 9th Assembly it is for the benefit of the 10th Assembly.
“The old chamber is not going to be ready until sometimes in August 2023 so we are talking about close to year. But so far so good, we are happy and this temporary site where we will be sitting for the next 9, 10 months is honestly a far cry from where we used to be but they have done well in adapting, this used to be hearing room to a legislative chamber. Adaptation – you made a lot of innovations. We are ready to work.
“The 10th Assembly is most likely (taking off here) unless work can be accelerated but we don’t want to accelerate work and compromise quality of work. So is better late but done well, everything worth doing is worth doing well.
“So, right now they bill to open that place in August. If we are lucky and they are able to move faster and work 24/7 round the clock, may be a month or two earlier in which case the 10th Assembly will come into new chamber.”
On whether the temporary chamber can accommodate all the 360 lawmakers, Gbajabiamila said: “You can see the configuration, it is not just this place, it is also upstairs.
“So, I think it is about 100 and something here and about 200 and something upstairs but it has been configured in such a way that everything is connected and you can see the screens, I can see everybody upstairs, everybody presiding can see everybody upstairs, can see everybody downstairs.”
Speaking with journalists at the construction site for the National Assembly Service Commission, Bassey Olusegun Etuk, a commissioner in the commission said the 400 capacity building was pegged at the cost of N11.6 billion.
He said: “This project is the permanent site of the National Assembly Service Commission and the reasons we are moving here are various: security, proximity to the service targeted functions. Here we have enough space, we are presently at an occupied rented apartment and here we carter for all our needs.
Michael Baka, a senior architectural consultant for project said it is
70% completed and it will be ready by April next year, adding that the projected has provided direct employment to over 200 Nigerians.
Baka said: “We are accelerating the work to see that we complete this project by April 2023 as against August 2023. On the civic works, are on the third and fourth floors, we are 70% completed. By the time you factor in services, we say we are 30% completed.”