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Presidency’s N2.2 Billion Party Hall Not Listed In Budget - Politics - Nairaland

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Presidency’s N2.2 Billion Party Hall Not Listed In Budget by mutiply: 8:16am On Nov 30, 2012
The proposed banquet hall will breach federal anti-corruption regulation. The building of a new banquet hall at N2.2 billion for the presidency
is nowhere listed in the State House’s budgets, qualifying the
contract as an “un-budgeted project” in violation of a key federal
rule, a review of the budget shows. The construction is not listed amongst new or old projects for the
current fiscal year, 2012; and is not in 2011 and 2013, both years
scrutinized for added certainty. There is also no mention of the project under the Federal Capital
Territory Administration budget, authorized to execute similar
projects at times, a recent example being the National Assembly’s
new offices. For the three years examined, where the banquet hall is mentioned
in the budgets, the allocations are merely to address specific repairs
and rehabilitation within the hall, subheads costing no more than
N60 million each. Even so, same repairs within the hall have maintained a constant
showing in the budget for successive years. Under the 2012 budget, new sets of “presentation equipment” were
to be purchased for the hall at the cost of N116.7 million, while
rehabilitation of the roof of the banquet dome was to cost N62.2
million. Electrical installation for the building was proposed for N34.6 million
too. Coincidentally, same “electrical installation” appeared for 2011
and 2013 at N45 million and N30 million respectively. A further “rehabilitation of the dome” for the 2013 budget, a
proposal not yet approved by the National Assembly, is also set at
N81 million. In all, no costs were allocated for fresh construction as approved by
the federal government on Wednesday. Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, could not be reached for
comments for this story. He did not return calls and is yet to
respond to our e-mail enquiry. Budgets examined were obtained from the Budget Office of the
Federation website. The observation, made after examinations by PREMIUM TIMES within
24 hours of the contract announcement, casts a troubling twist to
an already controversial project. It tells a story of how the federal government deviates from its
own budgets, a theme rigorously reported by this paper; and more
importantly, how it unilaterally deploys public funds to projects
that critics consider frivolous. The announcement of the job to construction firm, Julius Berger,
came after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting chaired by
President Goodluck Jonathan. The Federal Capital Territory Minister, Bala Mohammed, who
addressed reporters after the meeting, said the huge contract,
comprising a 150-seater facility with conveniences, walkways and
allied utilities, will bring the unit nearer to the president’s residence. Mr. Mohammed said the existing banquet hall is about two kilometers
from the residence of the president. A new one close enough, he added, will accord the country a due
pride of place since “smaller countries” own similar structures. “We notice that it is inconvenient, it is not in tandem with what is
outside the country, even smaller countries have better Banquet
Halls near the Presidential residence,” the Minister of Federal Capital
Territory, Bala Mohammed said. The announcement has been met with fierce criticism with many
calling for its suspension, accusing the government of displaying
insensitivity when the nation is bedeviled by unemployment and
poverty. “Is the hall now the problem of Nigeria? Why do we continue to
waste public funds when millions of people are wallowing in abject
poverty,” said Lanre Suraj of the Human and Environmental
Development Agency. Critics have also questioned the cost of the project and claims by the
minister that the exigency of the project was to reduce the distance
of a banquet hall for the president. “If a banquet hall alone is constructed at N2.2 billion, one wonders
how much hotels spend to build their entire structures,” Mr. Suraj

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