Faulty air-conditioners in the Chamber of the House of Representatives disrupted the plenary on Tuesday as the lawmakers complained it was not conducive for them to carry out their legislative duties.
Due to the heat in the chamber, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila skipped several aspects of deliberations for the day.
The House also decided that a letter be written to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territorial Administration (FCTA) to ensure something was done about the continued dilapidation of the National Assembly complex that houses the Chamber.
As sitting resumed, the Speaker said the Chamber was not conducive, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating if it could not be fixed soon, they may have to cut their deliberations short.
When it could not be fixed as the sitting progressed, a member, Haruna Dederi, raised a point of order that they adjourn due to the unbearable condition caused by the non-functioning air-conditioners.
Dederi said: “Sir Order 7 of the rules of this House has given you powers to absolutely control whatever goes on here to preserve decorum. To preserve the atmosphere within which we should operate. We are suffocating because the place is extremely hot. In my opinion Sir, we could have a way of either adjourning the business of the day or giving time so that the air conditioners can be out in proper shape. Whatever thing that you can do to save us from this physical situation in which we live.”
But the Speaker rather abridged the proceedings and rushed so they could leave.
“It is a good point and it is something I just conferred with the Deputy Speaker, I think what we would do is, that is why I said read just your titles and go to your prayers we put the question.
“There would be no debates and we try and run through this as quickly as we can because we have a couple of matters under consideration for Committee of the Whole, which I think we should quickly address.
“We take this one and go straight to consideration of reports, so we can leave here,” Gbajabiamila responded.
As the situation worsened, the Speaker directed the clerk to ensure the air-conditioners work by Wednesday when debates on the 2022 budget estimate would begin.
“Clerk please can you make sure that the AC here is working tomorrow (Wednesday). We have to begin the debate of the budget and we cannot do it under this condition. It is very important and very imperative that it is working tomorrow,” he said.
Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, used the opportunity to draw attention to the dilapidated state of the National Assembly complex.
“Mr Speaker, you alluded to the inclement weather environment here and gave instructions that it should be done. I also want to make mention that we are also challenged infrastructurally here.
“The other time we were fairly embarrassed by the roofs that were leaking and would expect that the landlord and the owners of the structure which is the FCTA would take appropriate action to make sure that we stay in a very clement environment to do our business.
“Because essentially most of the time Nigerians misread the occupants to be the person responsible for the structure. So if you look around you find out that this structure is heavily challenged apart from the cooling system.
“So I think in addition to that, appropriate action should be taken by the FCT administration to make adequate repairs and maintain the structure,” Okechukwu said.
The Speaker then directed that a letter be written to the Permanent Secretary of the FCTA to address the challenges.