7 December 2012

Nigeria: Senate Kicks Against Extra N9 Billion for VP's Residence

Photo: This Day
Vice President Namadi Sambo.

The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) was told Thursday that the ongoing construction of the vice-president's official residence would on completion cost N16 billion.

But the committee, chaired by Senator Smart Adeyemi, has opposed the release of an extra N9 billion for the residence.

Adeyemi, who spoke while on an oversight visit to the site of the project at Aso Drive, Abuja, noted that such a huge sum was uncalled for especially at a time when most Nigerians could not afford three square meals.

The total cost of the residence was revealed by the Executive Secretary of the FCDA, Mr. Adamu Sumaila.

While it was not clear when the project will be completed, over N7 billion has so far been expended on the project, with the FCDA requesting an extra N9 billion to complete it.

In his explanation, Sumaila, however, said that the extra funds would cover the cost of two guest houses, security gadgets, fencing, infrastructure and furnishing, including banquet halls.

He further revealed that the N7 billion so far committed to the project was for the first scope of work, stressing that the building was a big project of about 4,000 square meters as captured in the master plan.

Sumaila stated that the extra N9 billion had been revised by the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) to N6 billion.

The contracting firm, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, also revealed that the project was stalled for 5 months as a result of lack funds, but observed that the N7 billion allocated for the work was within the scope of their designated operation.

Reacting, Senator Adeyemi, said even with the adjustments by the BPP, the cost of building of the house, was incomprehensible and inexplicable.

He recalled that the committee last year refused to approve the additional N9 billion, adding that it would not release such a huge amount in the face of the austere situation in the country.

Senator Domingo Obende, in his remark, wondered why the security fittings were not included at the initial stage of the work and asked for a breakdown of the requirements to justify the additional funding, which should be submitted to the committee.

He said: "Additional N9 billion is inexplicable to us. We will not add one kobo more for completion of the project. N7 billion is more than adequate to complete the project. Nigerians are in need of money.

"We are aware of the security of the VP but in a nation where people cannot afford three square meals, we will not put additional money in the project.

"You will have to source for additional funds for the project. If you had said N3 billion or N4 billion that would have been understandable, but N9 billion, that is even more than the original project."

Also, while overseeing the construction of the Millennium Tower, the committee queried the contractor over why no Nigerian was in the engineering team.

They expressed concern that there was no technology transfer, as the 30 professionals in the contractor's employ were foreigners while 304 Nigerians were labourers and junior cadre staff.

Impressed by the outcome of the work at the tower, the committee promised to ensure that the statutory allocation is included for the Millennium Tower in the 2013 budget alongside the N2 billion already budgeted.

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