The Federal Government has approved the takeover of the financing of the abandoned multi-million National Library edifice by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFUND) with over N50 billion required to complete the project that was commended about 15 years ago.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono made this known, on Monday, in Abuja when the Nigerian Library Association, (NLA) led by its President, Professor Innocent Ekoga, paid a working visit to the Ministry.
Echono said the critical step being taken by the government is to reposition library services in the Nigerian education sector for effective service delivery.
Tribune Online, checks revealed that the contract for the construction of the NLN headquarters located on Plot 35 of the Central Business District Abuja, was awarded to Messrs Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) in 2006 at the cost of N8.590 billion.
The project was expected to be completed within three to four years. But15 years after, the contractors are not on-site even though the building is said to be about 44 per cent completed.
It was also gathered that the project at the stage it is currently abandoned has gulped over N11 billion. Because of inflation and the cost of materials, the contract had been reviewed several times.
Recall that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had two years ago said that a whopping sum of N50 billion was required to complete the National Library Headquarters, Abuja, a project abandoned since 2013. He cited poor funding as the reason for the abandonment of the project.
According to him, by 2013, during the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the project cost was reviewed upward to N18 billion but work was, however, stopped by the end of 2013 as a result of poor funding.
Adamu said: “In the recent past, I have received a number of enquiries from members of the press, expressing concern over the ‘abandoned’ gigantic National Library Headquarters, here in Abuja. Let me state unequivocally that the Buhari administration has made it clear that it will not abandon any project initiated by any past administration that is adjudged to be in the public interest.
“It is in the light of this, that the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Mambila Dam, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal and a host of other projects have either been completed or are being continued.
When this administration came into power, the contractor submitted a new bill of N78 billion to complete the project.
“We set up a committee to evaluate the project. This committee has submitted a bill of N50 billion. We have forwarded the report to the Bureau of Public Procurement for further appraisal. The recommendation of the BPP will be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration,” he said.
The Minister said while government awaits these processes to be completed, it is pursuing alternative sources of funding especially from special intervention funding windows from perhaps, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
However, the Permanent Secretary, Arc. Echono while speaking on Monday, confirmed that TETFund would take over the financing of the project estimated at the cost of N50 million.
He was quoted in a statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, Mr Bem Ben Goong to have recalled that work on the National Library has been stalled for years due to inadequate funding, adding that efforts to get the private sector to complete the project have not yielded results.
Responding, President of the Association, Prof. Innocent Ekoga, expressed profound appreciation to the Buhari Administration, maintaining that completion of the National Library will bring honour and pride to all Nigerian librarians as well as provide the much-needed reservoir for Nigerian researchers, students, and the generality of the reading public.
Highlights of the one-day working visit include; the investiture of the Service Award on the Permanent Secretary, the highest honour ever bestowed on a non-librarian by the Association.
The President of the Association revealed that the investiture on the Permanent Secretary is the seventh of its kind by the Association in the last 4 decades.
On his part, Arch. Echono said he is humbled and elated to be honoured by such a reputable Association, stating that the award is a great privilege for him.
The Permanent Secretary dedicated the prestigious award to Education Minister, Adamu Adamu and the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba respectively.
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