Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Monday offered explanations as to why the N52 billion project of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS) that was conceptualised for the permanent site of the Institute has continued to suffer neglect.
According to Saraki, who spoke after a facility tour of the project site by the two leaderships of the Senate and House of Representatives, the limited funds within the coffers of the National Assembly would be difficult to provide sufficient resources to complete the project, which was contracted to Julius Berger Construction Company in 2013, within a record time.
“Well it is an ongoing project, as you can see that a lot of work has been done and yet it is still yearning for completion. Does it add value, yes it has value. As you know the challenge we all have now is how is prioritizing the little funds that we have and how to bring the project to completion.
“There is no doubt that those that conceptualized the project meant well for the legislature but the challenge we have now is that we are all under very difficult times due to paucity of funds. We will do our best whether we have to phase it and take the ones we can complete and face it of otherwise.It is in our interest to see that the project is completed in one manner or the other,” he said.
On whether the contract sum of N52 billion earmarked for the project was worth the project, he expressed belief that it is of great value to the National Assembly, even though he did not get the financial presentation of the project.
A co-chairman of the Institute, Saraki said that the Board would go back and assess the NASS financial commitment to the project within the life of the administration.
Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who also doubles as co-chairman of the Board, said that the project is of immense value to the legislative life of the National Assembly as a training institute.
“You can’t circumvent the importance of the project to National Assembly as a training institute to the parliament. We hope that it would serve as a premier institute to the legislators not just in Nigeria but on the continent of Africa.
“What we can do in the face of the dwindling resources is to identity priority segments of the project and try to complete them so that we can immediately put them to use. For some of you in the media who have always questioned how the National Assembly have been utilizing its budgetary allocation, I am happy that today that question has been answered having seen this facility which engulfs part of National Assembly budget,” he said.
In an earlier interview, the Director General of the Institute, Dr. Ladi Hamalai, disclosed that the non-completion of the permanent site has delayed the execution of MOUs signed between the Institute and credible institutions around the world, including Johns Hopkins University, USA.
Hamalai added that the situation has thereby denied and deprived Nigeria of crucial trainings for capacity development, locally that would have helped to conserve the scarce foreign exchange, among other benefits.
It would be recalled that construction work was suspended last year due to paucity of funds.
The Institute’s permanent site, located along Airport road in Abuja is designed to be a world-class ultra-modern facility occupying 80 square meter land.
The UNION reports that the site hosts a convention center, administrative building, a state of the art library, lecture theatre, hostel, clinic and residences. It is the first of its kind in Africa.
– Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja