By VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA — The Anambra State government has abandoned the Government House complex named after the first Nigerian President and Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, after investing about N3 billion in the project.
A trip to the abandoned building showed that mad people and hoodlums have turned the entire complex into their homes. The bush around the complex has reached the size of the forest it was at the time the land was acquired for the project.
The project was initiated by the military regime soon after the creation of the state in 1991.
N300 million, N3 billion and Irrevocable Payment Order
Initially awarded for N300 million, to a business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze, the contract sum was reviewed upwards between 1999 and 2003. At the time the project was finally abandoned during the administration of Dr. Chris Ngige, when he stopped the controversial Irrevocable Payment Order, IPO, that entailed deducting N10 million monthly from the state’s Federation Account to service the contract, a whooping N3 billion had been sunk into the new Government House project in Awka.
Before it was abandoned, all the buildings in the complex had been roofed, but at present, most of the fittings had been vandalised. The hoodlums have also removed the long span aluminium used in the roofing without resistance from anybody.
The ambitious project has been described as a “bottomless pit,” considering the enormous financial and other resources put into it.
On completion, the Government House would have served as the governor’s office, governor’s lodge, guest houses and offices for Government House staff.
Arthur Eze and Chis Uba
The project, initiated by the then Colonel David Attah’s administration, was started by the Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s administration in1999.
The contract was awarded to a company originally owned by the business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze, but somewhere along the line, the renowned godfather of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba took over the job.
Apparently because of the size and the level of work required before it could serve the people of the state, the immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, initiated a completely new Government House and Governor’s Lodge project in another location in Awka.
Contracts for the two projects were awarded before Obi left office and the present governor, Chief Willie Obiano had continued with the execution of the new Government House at the Agu Awka area.
Complex and Anambra Varsity Hospital
The Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Chief Lawrence Chinwuba said in an interview that the state government may convert the abandoned Government House to an arm of the Anambra State University Teaching Hospital.
Chinwuba, however, said that it did not make economic sense to abandon the complex after so much resources had gone into it.