The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is planning to spend N15 billion to construct a new residence for the vice president despite the bad state of the nation’s economy.
The Minister of the FCT, Nysom Wike, disclosed this on Wednesday while defending the N61.5 billion 2023 supplementary budget of the FCT before the House of Representatives Committee on FCT.
President Bola Tinubu had on Tuesday transmitted the N67 billion FCT supplementary budget to the National Assembly for approval.
The planned construction of the new residence is coming despite the allocation of another N2.5 billion for the renovation of the current residence of the VP in the federal government’s supplementary budget recently passed by the National Assembly and signed by President Bola Tinubu.
Mr Wike informed the lawmakers that the construction of a new residence for the vice president was approved in 2010 by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the cost of N7 billion but that the project was abandoned.
He disclosed that the current administration has decided to commence the project and that the contractor has reviewed the project up to N15 billion.
To kickstart the project, Mr Wike is proposing in the 2023 FCT supplementary budget to spend N5 billion.
The project is titled: “Design and Construction of Vice President’s Residence at the cost of N5 billion.”
“The VP residence that was awarded in 2010 at the cost of N7 billion was abandoned. It is embarrassing that a country of this nature cannot in 13 years, complete the VP’s residence. N7 billion, now the contractor is saying well, we cannot continue to do it without review. Now they are saying N15 billion. We have taken it upon ourselves to say that we will complete it and Mr President will commission it by May,” he said.
Befitting residence for VP
When the lawmakers raised questions on the planned spending, Mr Wike said the project was conceived to give the VP “a befitting residence”.
“The current residence was built by the military — the Aguda House. The government then said look, we want to build a more befitting residence for the vice president, and that was in 2010.
“The contract was awarded at the cost of N7 billion. It is just like what we are building for the presiding officers of the National Assembly—you can see that it has been abandoned because of no funding. We believe that we are going to incorporate it into our own statutory budget. Let us finish it even if they don’t want to use it.
“We are not renovating. It is a new job that was approved in 2010. We are saying that we should be able to finish it and we will commission it in May 2024,” he said.
Other allocations for VP’s residence in FG’s supplementary budget
Apart from the allocation for the renovation of the VP residence in the FG’s supplementary budget signed by President Tinubu, there is another N3 billion for the renovation of the VP’s residence in Lagos State.
The current administration appears keen on spending humongous money for the comfort of the president and the vice president.
In the FG’s supplementary budget, the government will be spending N8 billion on the two official residences of the president in Abuja and Lagos.
Aside from the residences, the supplementary budget also contains billions allocated for the purchase of cars for the Villa and the Office of the First Lady.
The government’s spending plan generated negative reactions from Nigerians, who slammed the government for being insensitive.
Most Nigerians are battling with the rising cost of living due to the government’s economic reforms, particularly the removal of fuel subsidy.
Amidst the hardship, the government seems to prioritise comfort for the president and his deputy.
President Tinubu and some top officials of his administration have repeatedly asked Nigerians to be patient with it.
N2.8 billion on publicity
Meanwhile, Mr Wike is also proposing in the FCT supplementary budget to spend N2.8 billion on publicity for the FCTA .
The initial budget of the FCT had N60 million for advertisements and publicity.
Explaining the need for the humongous sum to the lawmakers, Mr Wike said the FCTA is publishing vital information that would generate money for the territory.
“If you look at publicity and advert, N60 million was appropriated but increased to N2.8 billion. Some people would ask, how come N2.8 billion? You use money to make money.
“When I came on board, we realised that most people don’t pay their ground rent. For instance, we published those applying for CofO of mass housing estates. We have gotten a presidential approval to decertify CofO,” he said.
According to the estimate submitted by the minister, the FCT got N25.7 billion from the Paris Club refund, N14.3 billion from the IPPIS/PAYE tax liabilities, and N5 billion special intervention fund.
Others are internally generated revenue of N9.4 billion and the infrastructure support fund of N7 billion.
The minister proposed N12.9 billion as overhead cost and N48.6 billion as the capital component of the budget.
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