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Copies of the State House of Assembly annual budget for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 obtained by The ICIR revealed that there was no budgetary provision for the renovation of the assembly complex in those years.
In 2017, the state assembly overhead cost which covers expenses such as local travels, maintenance of vehicles, maintenance of furniture; welfare package among other expenses was N621, 720, 836. But there was no provision for the renovation of the assembly complex.
Similarly, the 2018 approved budget for the overhead cost for the state assembly was N1,152, 500, 00, yet no provision was made for the renovation of the chamber. The same amount was budgeted for 2019 with no amount earmarked to change the face of the dilapidated assembly constructed in 1979.
The state’s lawmakers have been at loggerheads with the governor since Wednesday, July 24 when a snake reportedly fell from the ceiling of the assembly complex during plenary, disrupting the day’s legislative business.
Reports say the snake fell from one of the damaged ceilings of the hallowed chamber.
After the incident, members of the house concluded that the chamber was no longer safe for legislative work and decided to inform the state governor, especially when a ceiling also caved in, directly where the speaker was sitting.
“The whole house was agitated and when we look around we saw the damage the termite had done to most of the woodwork in the ceiling,” said the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Olugbenga Omole.
“At that point, we had to call ourselves and adjourned the sitting. That chamber is no longer safe for legislative business and because of that, we decided to adjourn indefinitely. The house will be going on an indefinite recess.
“We need to intimate the state governor Rotimi Akeredolu about this development and we have decided to meet him on this,” Omole added.
There were also reports that no snake fell from the ceiling, but the lawmakers who were disgruntled used the hoax to get the attention of the state governor to the dilapidated state of the assembly complex.
But the governor expressed disappointment with the “lies” orchestrated by the lawmakers after visiting the complex.
The governor said the lawmakers had only made the attempt to blackmail the state and ridicule his government.
The angry governor, who was in the company of his Chief of Staff, Mr. Olugbenga Ale, said his “government would not condone any act of blackmail”.
However, the lawmakers after a meeting on Tuesday issued a communique in which they jointly lamented the state of the assembly complex.
In the communique, they alleged that the complex had not been rehabilitated in the last 10 years.
“We want to state, without any equivocation, that no fund had been released to the House of Assembly for capital projects in the last five years in spite of budgetary provision,” said Success Torukerijo, the member representing Ese Odo Constituency who read the communique on behalf of others to journalists in Akure.
He said there has not been any cash backing for the renovation of the House of Assembly in the past 10 years.
“It is pitiable that the Ondo State House of Assembly Complex is the worst in terms of infrastructure in the whole country,” Torukerijo added.
Governor Akeredolu started his second term in office on February 24, 2017, after winning a tightly contested gubernatorial election on November 27, 2016.