This is the height of debauchery. This is the limit of profligacy. This is the limit of wastefulness. This is the height of irresponsibility. This is the height of insensitivity. This is the limit of disconnect between the government and the governed. This is recklessness at its highest and at its worst.
With a presidential fleet of aircraft larger than that of the US president, it is little wonder that a Vice President would ever contemplate building for himself an official residence that would gulp 14 billion Naira public money. I really do not know what elected or selected political office holders in this country take Nigerians for, or what they think of themselves and their self-worth.
Who really are these people? What is their pedigree?
I have no intention to insult any body’s parents because Nature did not give any one the privilege to choose their parents. And I am very proud of my parents. I cannot imagine the life of me asking to live in a 14 billion Naira house at public expense. Even if I won a jumbo lottery of 14 billion Naira, I would rather think of several factories such funds can build and millions of jobs it can provide.
I do not think the two leading openly quoted richest men in Nigeria, the duo of Dangote and Adenuga live in 14 billion Naira house.
People who suddenly found themselves in opulence by virtue of public office or by virtue of access to public funds should remember the children of whom they are.
I grew up in one 10’ by 10’ bed room that accommodated my mother and 6 other uterine siblings at a point in time. 7 of us slept on a bare floor with hand woven mat spread on it. The only window in that room was 1 foot by 1 foot, that is 12 inches high and 12 inches wide, the size of an average framed photograph! It was my grandfather’s mud house. I did not have the luxury of a room to myself until my father extended his own house and I was allocated a tiny room at age 17!
I believe most people in my generation and in the generation that followed mineshared the same humble background. No big deal.
I will quote from Professor Oladipupo Akinkugbe’s recent biography to buttress my argument. Hear one of the world’s leading authorities on hypertension: “One Sunday afternoon as we sat down in the hall [at university of Ibadan 1951] to the usual weekend lunch, an undergraduate beckoned to the steward. When the steward arrived, the imperious young man admonished him for not serving ice water. ‘Listen; my glass must be seen to sweat’ he blurted out…….
Unknown to the protester, the steward disappeared into the kitchen only to emerge minutes later with a furious cook. To our consternation, this elderly cook then took the unprecedented step of physically assaulting the young undergraduate. Some of us nearly rose to his defence until we discovered to our surprise that the elderly gentleman was in fact the student’s father.
He fumed in [Igbo language] ‘What nonsense is this indulgence? I s this what I have sacrificed so much to come and see you do here? Have you seen a fridge in our Abadina house through these years?”
The great Obafemi Awolowo taught us never to indulge in anything in office which we cannot afford out of office.
It is important for us to read the response of the Senate to the embarrassing request made by the Minister for Federal Capital Territory to spend a whopping 14 billion Naira on Vice President’s residence as written by Dapo Falade and published in the Nigerian Tribune:
Senate rejects N7bn for VP’s lodge
The Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), headed by Senator Smart Adeyemi, has rejected the request of additional N7 billion for the completion of the vice-president’s lodge currently under construction. Senator Adeyemi, who led members of his committee on tour of the new lodge on Thursday, said that the Senate would not accede to the request for additional N7 billion for the completion of the residence.
The request was part of the FCT budget for 2013 and would have been added to the equest of N2 billion included in the Federal Government’s budget for the FCT.
The lodge was originally scheduled to cost N7 billion, which was accommodated in the 2012 budget but variations brought to the Senate Committee by the FCT Administration showed that the ministry intends to spend additional N9 billion. The cost was, however, reduced to about N7 billion, following the intervention of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
Senator Adeyemi said that the new request was questionable, adding that the Senate would not approve the additional request.
He stated that the plan to build security posts and banquet halls in the complex, which is responsible for the variation, was indefensible, in view of the widespread poverty in Nigeria.
According to him, the planned security and a banquet hall ought to have been accounted for in the initial proposal for the building of the project.
He said: “I can assure you that this committee will not appropriate, not even one kobo for this project. The N7 billion already appropriated for it is big enough to accommodate the entire infrastructure requirement.
“While the life of the vice-president is important, there is no way this request for an additional N7 billion could be accommodated.
“How do we explain this to Nigerians who are going through the pains of hunger? Julius Berger (the construction company handling the project) should be a partner, seeking to help Nigeria, rather than adding to the burden.
“Even if the Due Process Office accepts the figure, the Senate would not appropriate it. The Senate is accountable to the people.
“Seeking for an approval of N14 billion for the vice-president’s residence is huge. The furniture will not be imported from heaven. N14 billion is indefensible. There are so many hungry stomachs in the country today,” he said.
Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Adamu Ismaeel, who conducted members of the committee round the project, said an additional N7 billion would be needed to put all facilities in place in the residence.
He also stated that the proposal of N9 billion was placed before the BPP for the fencing, building of a banquet hall, security gadgets, two protocol houses and other infrastructural requirement needed in the residence, but that the Bureau approved only N6.5 billion, an amount the Senate has equally rejected.
The Pertinent Question
The pertinent question is, “What happened to the residences of Admiral Aikhomu, General Diya, Vice Admiral Ahigbe, Turaki Atiku, and Dr Jonathan when they were second in command to the Head of state? What happened to Aguda House?
Is Nigeria saying it must build a new residence for every Vice President? What kind of country is this? What, in the name of Olodumare is wrong with the present residence of the Vee Pee?
We keep building these expensive edifices and dash them to the occupants when they complete their terms in office. This is bare faced robbery.
And for a federal government that is battling to honour its pledge of 18 thousand Naira minimum wage to employees, it is a shame that the second most important citizen in the land is contemplating squandering a whopping 14 billion on one single residence!
This is one issue that we shall pursue to the end, even if it means challenging this recklessness in the court of law.
Do not submit your happiness to the whims and caprices of others.