Property Owner Threatens National Library over N508m Debt

  • As N38bn stalls completion of new building

Paul Obi in Abuja

The National Library of Nigeria (NLN) has been threatened with an eviction notice over N508 million it owed for its temporary building by the landlord of the building located around Central Business District in the Abuja metropolis.

NLN Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Lenrie Aina, stated this in Abuja wednesday when the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education led by its Chairman, Aliyu Wamakko, visited the NLN on an oversight function.

Aina told members of the committee that the organisation is yet to pay three years rent on its temporary corporate headquarters.

He said: “The national library currently owes N508, 000,000.00. Three years rent is yet to be paid on our temporary corporate headquarters building and the landlord has threatened to eject us with all its unpleasant consequences.

“The present state of the building is deplorable with leaking roof, cracked walls, malfunctioning toilets and broken water pipes. The space for staff and working environment is grossly inadequate.

“I was informed that the staff staged work-to-rule twice in the past in protest of the fear that the building might collapse on them.”

The CEO informed the committee that the completion of the new headquarters of the agency estimated to gulp N38 billion had been stalled due to lack of funds.

He said only N11.6 billion have been paid to the contractor handling the project, Messrs Reynolds Construction Company, till date.

Aina further called on the committee to allow the agency move to the new headquarters which he said is about 44 per cent completed.

According to him, “The stakeholders’ action resulted in the contract sum of the project at reduced scope (reduced from 11 floors to 8 floors) being reviewed upward to N17, 479,584.82 billion from the initial contract sum of N8, 590,226,393.00.

“In 2012, there was a presidential anticipatory approval to revert the project to its full scope. An ad-hoc technical committee made up of principals and resident staff of all the consulting firms on the project, the contractor, members of FCDA supervision team, the national library of Nigeria; FME reviewed the contract and recommended N38, 764, 304, 832.20 as the revised estimated total cost (RETC) of completing the project in 30 months.

“This is yet to be processed for the Federal Executive Council’s approval. Currently, the percentage completion of the project is about 44 percent. Total cost payment made till date is N11, 573,856,455.82.

“Given the fact that the new headquarters building is 44 per cent complete, it is suggested that the Senate Committee on Education should give the directive to the National Library to move to the basement and the first two upper floors.

While speaking, Wamakko, who was in the company of Senator Rose Oko and other committee members, said the Senate would address all the issues raised by the agency in good faith and work assiduously to ensure that agencies function effectively.

He promised that the committee would continue to work towards ensuring funding of the NLN remains a top priority in strengthening the nation’s education sector.