The Head of the National Library of Nigeria, Prof Lanre Aina on Friday in Abuja revealed that the agency left the entire year 2020 capital budgetary allocation meant for the completion of the new Headquarters of the National Library of Nigeria in Abuja idle throughout the year and would return the money to the federation account despite the fact that what the money was meant for remain unattended to.
Aina told the joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund during the agency’s budget defence session that the 2020 budget allocation of N232 million was released for the project but could not be used because the “contractor handling the job could not provide any certificate of job execution.”
This according to Prof. Aina led to the N232 million lying idle and waiting to be returned to government treasury on December 31, this year when the budget cycle would have been completed.
Reacting to the revelation, the Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Ahmad Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina North) expresses displeasure over the issue as he described the National Library as an eye sore and a “national embarrassment” to the country.
Kaita decried the fact that the National Library of Nigeria headquarters building project in Abuja has been consistently allocated funds for since 2014 yet the project remained uncompleted thereby leaving “the fate of the project hanging.”
According to Kaita “we have a National Library without a state of the art facilities, which is embarrassing to a country as big as Nigeria
“When libraries are even going digital, the ordinary local one that we can make reference to, that if there is any issue, somebody will say go to the National Library, at least your problem is solved; we don’t have that. It’s embarrassing thing.
On his part, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund and co-chairman, Hon. Aminu Suleiman said the documents submitted by Prof. Lanre Aina for 2020 budget performance “exerts many inquiries”.
He expressed surprise that N232 million earmarked for the main National Library project was not utilized, adding that the “parts that have to do with repairs and other sundries in the current structure and probably in the states do not provide required details of the expenditures”
The joint committee which expressed its disappointment over the unclear explanations of the National Library team led by Prof. Aina directed them to furnish the committee with a detailed report on the procurement activities on the National Library Headquarters building project which should include the intended completion timelines by Thursday next week.
It is not clear how much has been spent on the project since 2014 or when the project being handled by the Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) will be completed.