The new residence being built for the Vice President will now gulp a total of N16 billion because "additional scope" is introduced in the project, the Federal Capital Development Authority told senators yesterday.
In addition to the N7.1 billion approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2009 for design and construction of the VP's new official residence, some N9 billion more is required to complete the project, FCDA executive secretary Adamu Ismail said.
Ismail was answering questions from members of the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory when they visited the site of the project in the Three Arms Zone of Abuja.
He said the additional N9 billion was needed to build a banquet hall, protocol guest house, two other guest houses and civil infrastructure, as well as to purchase furniture and install security gadgets.
Ismail said the new scope of the project was being introduced in the residence because of the personality of the nation's number two citizen.
"This is not the only scope of the project. The first scope we have is N7 billion and that is what we are executing now. My first point of duty was this project when I assumed office because the project was about being stalled then. I realised there is an additional scope to be done on the project because of the personality of Mr Vice President," he said.
Ismail said the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) had vetted the request for the additional N9 billion and approved over N6 billion which would not be enough to undertake "other adjustments to be done for the project".
"We wrote to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for consideration. They sent it back to us with their observations, and it was vetted and it came back to over N6 billion. But in the course of this project, there are some other adjustments needed to be done. We will provide the details to you and when you see the details, you will either or not appreciate what we are doing," he said.
Chairman of the Senate FCT committee Smart Adeyemi said the security facilities and other items for which additional N9 billion is sought ought to have been reflected in the project from the outset.
Adeyemi, who described the money being requested as huge, inexplicable and indefensible, said the National Assembly would not approve additional kobo.
He said it was time the government stopped wasting money.
"Our own interest is the end product of the project. Now, you're asking for another N9 billion. Even if this place has a capacity of 1,000 people, to us, additional N9 billion is inexplicable," he said.
"We are not going to appropriate additional funds for this project, I can assure you of that. The National Assembly will not approve additional kobo for this project. Asking for additional N9 billion for the banquet hall and its security facilities is indefensible. We should not waste money.
"We appreciate the fact that we must cater for the well-being of the vice president and his safety, but to ask us to appropriate additional N9 billion in a nation where many Nigerians cannot afford three square meals is indefensible and we won't allow that."
Adeyemi added: "In the executive, you don't see what we see. You see the figures, while we see the people. Now, you are asking us to approve the contract sum of N16 billion for the building of the Vice President's residence alone. Our position is that this money is huge and indefensible. We've to look at budgeting in relation to the needs of the people. You also talked about furniture as being included in your new request for N9 billion. Is the furniture going to be bought from heaven?"
Also speaking, the vice chairman of the committee, Senator Domingo Obende, asked that the details of the N9 billion being sought be submitted to the committee.
"We have our own consultants whom we will ask to look at those details. Even if the Due Process Office accepts it, we won't accept it," he said.
The contract is being handled by Julius Berger construction company. Its engineer Mr Peter Kambouris, who conducted the committee round the site of the project, said it could not be completed within the 20-month period originally specified because of withheld payments.