‘Nothing wrong with spending N15bn to construct official residence of VP,’ Shettima’s spokesperson, Stanley Nkwocha claims

‘Nothing wrong with spending N15bn to construct official residence of VP,’ Shettima’s spokesperson, Stanley Nkwocha claims

Stanley Nkwocha, spokesperson of Vice-President Kashim Shettima, said the N15 billion budget for the construction of a new residence for the VP is not

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Stanley Nkwocha, spokesperson of Vice-President Kashim Shettima, said the N15 billion budget for the construction of a new residence for the VP is not a waste of money.

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the February general elections, had faulted the proposed N15 billion for the construction of a new residence for Shettima, saying that given the current economic crisis, the money could have been put to good use.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nysom Wike, had disclosed that the FCT intends to spend the amount on a ‘befitting residence’ for the Vice-President of Nigeria.

Obi, in a series of tweets on his X handle, on Monday, berated the plan as shocking and disheartening, considering the many important challenges facing our nation.

“Just recently in the Supplementary Budget, the sum of N2.5 billion was included for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Abuja, which means that he already has a residence. Again, during the budget presentation, I heard the sum of N3 billion was allocated for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Lagos.”

The former Anambra Governor further decried the poverty rate, collapsed health facilities and skyrocketed unemployment rate in the country.

“If we total all these sums, we would have budgeted the sum of N20.5 billion for the housing of the Vice President at this critical time when we are not just the world’s poverty capital, but more people are falling into poverty, with so many Nigerians not knowing where their next meal will come from. Our health facilities have collapsed, and unemployment is skyrocketing.”

On Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project urged the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to use his leadership position to promptly reject the plan by the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, to spend N15 billion for the construction of a befitting residence for Shettima.

SERAP urged Akpabio to “assert Senate’s authority and constitutional oversight roles to reject the N2.8 billion on publicity for the FCTA and other proposed wasteful and unnecessary spending that may be contained in the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget proposed by President Bola Tinubu.

Reacting in a statement on Tuesday, Nkwocha said the proposed plan for the construction of the new residence was awarded by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. He noted that his principal has committed himself to serving Nigeria and helping Tinubu in achieving his set goals and objectives.

He accused Obi of trying to paint the current administration in bad light.

“We have taken note of statements credited to the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, who made another frail and futile attempt to paint the President Bola Tinubu administration in bad light,” the statement said.

“The subject of his newfound passion – armchair criticism after his loss at the presidential poll was the proposed N15.5billion budgeted by the FCTA to renovate the house of the Vice-President, which he claimed would pay the annual salary of 3,000 University Professors.

“Giving the reactions and invocations generated by Obi’s comments, it is necessary for the sake of history to clarify the issue. The proposed plan for the construction of the Vice President’s official residence, for which budgetary allocation was made in the 2024 budget by the FCT Administration, was awarded by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“It was not originated by the present administration. This, Mr Obi, knows but chose to play dumb all in a bid to inflamate a targeted group of Nigerians and, as usual, score cheap political goals, accolades and praises.”

Nkwocha said the project which was re-initiated in 2010 and funded by the Jonathan administration was abandoned.

“Appalled by the sorry state of the uncompleted building that was now overtaken by weeds and reptiles over a decade after construction started about 13 years ago,” he said.

“The current FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, felt it would be a waste to allow such a project started with public funds to continue to lie fallow. Thus, in his wisdom and without the prompting of the vice-president, decided to resuscitate the building. We invite more cerebral Nigerians to crosscheck properly.

“What should be considered a waste between Obi’s tantrums because the project has attracted government’s attention, given the decision by the current administration to complete vital abandoned projects. What is more wasteful and reckless than abandoning an edifice to rot and depreciate despite the amount that has been sunk into it over the years?

“It did not start today, same for residences of the Senate President and the Speaker. The array of abandoned Federal Government projects littered all over the country is a national embarrassment that the current administration has taken a bold step to save the country from.

“This is why it has made it a priority that all abandoned projects must be completed before new ones are initiated, save for some on exceptional basis, either because of the need for strategic alignment or economic significance.”