By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—DISTURBED by the almost eleven years delay in completion of the National Library Headquarters, the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services yesterday gave the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, 24 hours to appear before it to explain why the construction of the building was not prioritised in the 2018 budget, despite several variations.
The committee in session gave the summon while taking presentation from the Chief Librarian of the Federation. It also threatened to reject the entire budget proposed by the Ministry in 2018 if allocation for the project was not increased from the N2.112 billion that has been proposed in the budget.
The resolution followed series of observations made by members on the continuous delay in the construction of the National Library headquarters which began since 2006 at the Central Business District Abuja.
The Reps upon quizzing officials of the library at the committee’s 2018 budget defence discovered that the project which was awarded for the sum of N8.6 billion in 2006 later rose to N17 billion in 2010.
In 2014, according to the documents, the project cost again went up to N38 billion with another review caused by the contractor, Reynolds Construction Company which requested in 2017 that the contract be varied and reviewed to N78 billion.
While reacting to a revelation that a committee was set up to prune down the sum to N48 billion in 2017, the House Committee Chairman, Rep Zakari Mohammed (APC, Kwara), noted that the project which began in 2006 has not made any appreciable progress despite the series of reviews.
He said where the National Library is currently located is like a “farm house”, noting that the intellectual bank of every nation was its library.
Mohammed said it is either the allocation is jerked up to a reasonable level or there’s no budget for the National Library and the entire Ministry of Education.
He said Nigeria has become a laughing stock for other African countries given the state of the country’s National Library.
On the series of reviews done on the project cost, Mohammed asked the contractor regarding the rationale behind such reviews.
The company represented by the project manager, Mr Sergey Ginzbour, said the review was necessitated by the increase in the cost of materials different from what obtained in 2006 when the contract was signed.
He said the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), came up with additional facilities to be included in the building which were not part of the initial design, adding that again contributed to the increase, following another review and evaluation, as well a the changing economic realities in the country.
…Grills WAEC on IGR
Also,the committee queried the Registrar of West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) Nigeria, Mr. Olu Adenipekun for spending its internally generated revenue on personnel cost despite drawing subvention from government coffers.
A member of the Committee, Adamu Kamale (APC, Adamawa) reminded his colleagues of the need to avoid a repeat of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), scenario where IGR was equal to expenditure until the new Registrar came and did the unthinkable of remitting N7.5 billion to government coffers in 2017.
He said JAMB scenario with that of WAEC had always been similar with the WAEC making more money than JAMB going by the number of candidates it registers every year.