Senate urges FG to fund, complete National Library

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The Nigerian Senate  at plenary has urged the Federal Government to prioritize the funding and completion of the permanent site of the National Library of Nigeria in order to mitigate losses accrued to the project.

In a motion on the preventable economic loss and national embarrassment arising from the failure of the Federal Government to complete the National Library after 11 years sponsored by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa, the Senate notes that the National Library building project was conceptualized by the Federal Government in 2002 but awarded to Messrs Reynolds Construction Company at the sum of N8.590 billion with a time line of 22 months.

They noted that after a series of false starts leading to initial suspension of work sometimes in 2009, the project scope was reduced from the initial 8 floors plan to 5 floors and the contract sum of the reduced scope was reviewed to N17 billion from the original sum of N8.590 billion.

The Senators are worried that the continuous failure to properly fund the project within the specified period would cause the government losses, modestly estimated to be in the range of N40-N60 billion and that if this failure to fund the project expeditiously continues, it might cost the Government even more in the long run.

According to the sponsor of the motion, Senator Ashafa, the Senators should be disturbed that 57 years after the birth of Nigeria with trillions of Naira sunk in the development of Abuja, the National Library of Nigeria still operates from a rented building because it does not have a permanent site.

The failure of successive government to prioritize this project is another source of worry to the Senators.According to them, this is a direct reflection and metaphor for the almost inexistent premium place on knowledge and intellectual capital by the government.

The Senate subsequently mandated its Committee on Education to meet with the Ministers of Education and the Federal Capital Territory and the National Librarian and the. Chief Executive Officer of the National Library of Nigeria to adopt an appropriation strategy that would ensure the completion of the project starting from the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

They also advised the Federal Government to be more strategic in the award of contracts with a view to embarking on only projects that can be adequately financed to the tune of its budgetary appropriation.

Also today at plenary, the Senate directs its Committees on Interior and Employment, Labour and Employment to investigate through a public hearing allegations of Abuse of Expatriate Quota by Foreign Multinationals. The motion was sponsored by Senator Andy Uba.

In a motion on Inadequate maintenance of Federal Government Owned Hospitals sponsored by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, the Senate charged the Ministries of Finance and Budget to prioritize the Ministry of Health in the release of annual budgetary allocation.

They also charged the Ministry of Health to ensure efficiency in health care services, and maintain high standard of health care delivery services within the country, periodic training, hospital inspections and quality management through continuous evaluation.