Authorities at the national library headquarters in Abuja were optimistic last week that the building and civil engineering contractor – Messrs Reynolds Construction Company will resume work, after contract variation to complete the abandoned complex jumped to N100 billion.
To date, only N19.2 billion was appropriated in the budget for the project. In 2006, the cost of the project was pegged at N8.59 billion by the government, with a completion period of 22 months. By 2013, the amount shot up to N18 billion and the project was stopped due to poor funding.
Two years later, the project was reviewed to N38.8 billion by key stakeholders and the construction firm submitted a new bill of N78 billion for completion, which was also agreed by all parties. But owing to inflation rate, last year’s contract variation climbed to N100 billion.
The country’s National Library occupied four hectares of land, containing 78,000 square meters of office space, plus conference facilities and located in the Central District Area of the Federal Capital Territory.
The Guardian gathered that three institutions involved in its execution, the Federal Capital Development Authority, Federal Ministry of Education, National Library of Nigeria and the construction firm are fine-tuning strategies and eager to resume work on the project.
It was further gathered that the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari made last minute efforts to appropriate funds for the project to kick-start but harmonisation of relevant documents stalled it.
Director, Library Services, Mr. Barnabas Awunandu, who spoke on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Andrew Adejo, said: “We do not know what the new administration will be thinking about the National Library of Nigeria project. Hopefully, they will take up steps to review the contract to ensure completion of this national asset.”
National Librarian, Prof. Veronica Anunobi, who spoke through Deputy Director of Press, Musa Saleh, said over N2.4 billion had been appropriated for its completion in the past eight years of Buhari administration, which is grossly inadequate for such a giant structure.
“The project was estimated to cost N8 billion to construct the building and furnish but due to economic conditions, the Federal Government raised the amount to N48 billion to enable the contractor complete the project, which fell short of the contract variation.
“This is a massive project that is becoming shameful for a country like Nigeria, that cannot boost its world class library. It also shows that our leaders have no interest in library development for the past 64 years after independence.”
Findings revealed that it will take the government a budget estimate of N78 billion to enable RCC to move to site to execute the project. It was equally gathered that the National Executive Council issued a directive to that effect.
It was learned, the council has also directed TETfund to finance the finishing, having set aside N32 billion, as yearly budgetary allocation to the abandoned building.