Efforts by some members of House of Representatives to reverse the monetization policy of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s monetization policy suffered major setback during Wednesday plenary session.
The resolution was passed after heated debate on the motion titled: ‘A call for change of the name, “Apo Legislative Quarters” to reflect current reality,’ sponsored by Segun Alexander Adekola.
Adekola explained that the Motion was borne out of compassion for new Legislators who pass through harrowing experiences before they can get befitting accommodation.
He decried the chance missed for social closeness and harmony they should have been enjoying if they were living in the same quarters as was the idea behind having the legislative quarters in the first place.
He therefore called for the change of the name as over 80% of the inhabitants of the legislative quarters are not legislators.
“The House is aware that in June 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo based on the recommendation of a Committee headed by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ufot Ekaette directed that the fringe benefits of all public and political office holders be monetized.
“The House is also aware that in 2004, the Federal Executive Council mandated the Federal Capital Territory Administration to sell all the Federal Government non-essential Housing Units in Abuja, including the Apo Legislative Quarters which were sold to Legislators occupying them at the time under specific rules and guidelines.
“The House observes the harrowing and challenging experiences new members of the Legislature are subjected to in their quest to get decent accommodation in the Federal Capital Territory as a result of the sale of the Quarters originally built to accommodate them.
“The House is concerned about the continuous use of the name ‘Apo Legislative Quarters’ in describing the place, when in actual fact, most of the houses in the quarters are no longer being occupied by Legislators, having since changed hands due to sales to a third or even to a fourth Party.
“The House appreciates the need to protect and uphold the sanctity of the Legislature by putting in place a corrective measure to address this ugly trend and distortion of fact,” Adekola urged.
Speaking in support of the motion, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia) proposed that FCDA as a matter of urgency ensure construction of befitting quarters set aside for serving legislators.
However, Yussuff Lasun, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who queried the intendment of the motion, urged that the Motion should be withdrawn as many former Members still reside in the quarters and feels the name the place has no bearing on how the Parliament performs.
In his remarks, Pally Iriase, Deputy Chief Whip, who observed that monuments are maintained for historical purposes world over, however frowned at the current development in Nigeria.
He stated that though many Members no longer reside at the quarters, but the name is a point of history that should be preserved for historical purposes.
In his contribution, Johnson Agbonayinma stated that the quarters lost its status as a national monument the moment it was monetized and lost its initial function and status.
Also speaking, Aminu Suleiman argued that the Motion lacks any merit as the statistics presented by the promoter of the motion, adding that a lot of current Legislators still resided within the quarters.
On his part, Abubakar Nuhu stated that the name should still remain to serve its historical purpose.
Similarly, Emmanuel Okon stated that Members staying at the quarters are there on their private capacities and not because they are Members, adding that some private citizens there who engage in any form of criminality may be doing so at the detriment of the name of ‘Legislative quarters’.
Meanwhile, the motion was rejected through voice vote when Speaker Yakubu Dogara called for voting.