Oct 31, 2017

Senate Urged To Intervene In Failure To Complete The National Library After 11 Years

The Senate on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 criticized the inability of the Federal Government to complete the National Library Building Project eleven years after the contract was awarded.  Which has become a preventable economic loss and a national embarrassment.  The matter was recently brought to the fore of burning national issues during Tuesday’s senate plenary via a motion sponsored by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa representing Lagos East senatorial district captioned “The Preventable Economic Loss and national Embarrassment arising from the failure of the Federal Government to complete the National Library.”

The motion highlighted, amongst others, the monumental economic loss that had become the lot of the nation due to the failure of the FG to complete the project within the initial alloted time-frame, the almost inexistent premium placed on knowledge and intellectual capital in Nigeria, and how much damage had been wrought on the learning and development culture of the Nigeria’s human capital.

In moving the motion, Senator Ashafa gave more details including the fact that the project was initially awarded for the sum of N8.59bn with a project timeline of 22 months. However, due to the insufficient funding for the project and a series of reviews of the project scope, the project suffered a huge setback which spiraled into other avoidable pitfalls.

Senator Ashafa dwelt further on his worries that the continuous failure of the FG to properly fund the project within the specified period would cause the government both short term and long term financial losses modestly estimated to be in the range of 40 to 50 billion Naira and that there was the danger of more losses in the long run if funding challenges persisted. One of the many concerns expressed in the motion included the reality that the National Library of Nigeria still operates from a rented building after 57 years of independence and trillions of Naira spent on the project thus far.

In his contributions to deliberations on the motion, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central) commended the motion and its mover, Senator Ashafa, whilst stressing the need for government to speed up the project and focus more on capital projects that enhance national/collective learning and development.

In its resolution, the Senate 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 accruable to the project. The Senate also resolved to mandate the Senate Committee on Education to meet with the Honourable Ministers of Education and the Federal Capital Territory and the National Librarian/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. The FG was also advised 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.