The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Dino Melaye, has said the National Assembly will call for a review of the contract awarded for the construction of the official residence of the Vice-President.
According to Melaye, the gatehouse of the three-bedroomed apartment will cost N250m.
The senator, while addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, also alleged sharp practices by the contractor handling the construction of the official residences of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Melaye was asked about the effort by the Federal Capital Development Authority to ensure that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, eventually move into their official accommodation.
He replied, “As chairman of the committee, even if the Senate President had not asked that the money (for the project) be removed from the budget, we would have stopped it. You will recall that I was on an oversight function with some of you and we visited these buildings, and I can say that they were built at skyrocketing, over-inflated prices.
“As I speak to you, the mosque that is occupying less than 100 square meters, that is meant to be the prayer place for the Senate President and the deputy Senate President’s residences, and even the Vice-President’s residence, was awarded for over N200m. And it’s a three-bedroomed ‘boys quarterless’ structure.
“The gatehouse of the Vice-President’s residence was also awarded at over N250m. We are going to call for a review of that contract. Julius Berger said they were going to build a concrete building. I went there with a hammer and I hit it on the wall and I saw block. That investigation is ongoing. We want to make sure that government is not being short-changed. So, we are definitely going to call for a review of the contract because this is a rape of the taxpayers’ money.”
Melaye’s figure on the cost of the gatehouse, however, varied from that of the House of Representatives Committee on FCT, which, in February 2016, queried the then Minister of the FCT, Muhammed Bello, for spending N55m on the budget.
The House of Representatives had also criticised Bello’s administration for building a 12-person capacity mosque on the premises for N96m; a 20-person capacity chapel at N86m; as well as the aide-de-camp and Chief Security Officer’s residences for for N288m.
The contract for the construction of the Vice-President’s residence was awarded by the ex-President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration in 2009 at a cost of N7bn.
But a former Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, requested from the Senate, an additional N9bn to complete the project.
The variation was expected to accommodate a helipad.
The then Executive Secretary, FCDA, Adamu Ismail, had later told the Senate Committee on FCT that the additional N9bn had been slashed by the Bureau for Public Procurement to N6bn.
Ismail explained that the variation was also meant to provide furniture, fencing, two additional protocol guest houses, a banquet hall and security gadgets.
The then Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi, had rejected the request for the variation, which he said was more than 100 per cent.