Following the re-emergence of a photograph on social media showing the controversial N250 million gate-house at the official residence of the Vice President under construction, Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s office has rushed out a statement saying the new residence was conceived by the former administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and has nothing to do with the present administration.
A tweet of the photo of the mansion by Senator Dino Melaye, the most vociferous critic of the new official residence was trending Sunday, but it appeared to have been pulled by evening. Melaye hints at corruption of the presidency over the residence.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, wrote yesterday: “For the umpteenth time, we like to clarify that the proposed plan of the immediate past administration to build a new official residence for the occupant of the Office of the Vice President, including the controversial gatehouse preceded this administration.
“The project which started in 2010, was initiated and funded by the immediate past administration, but had never featured in the two budget proposals of the Buhari administration: neither in the 2016 nor the 2017 spending plans.
“Any suggestion therefore that this project benefits our administration or that it reflects our spending style or preferences is not only misleading but blatantly false.
“Besides, the incumbent Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said publicly that he considers Aguda House, which he currently occupies, a befitting official residence for the Vice President and sufficient for his needs.
“While the project is now about 85% complete, the Federal Government, in the circumstances, will decide at the appropriate time what is the best use for the 14 buildings already on the project site.”
Commenting on the project and others for Senate President and his deputy’s residences, over two weeks ago, Melaye had stated: “As chairman of the committee, even if the Senate President had not asked that the money (for the project) be removed from the budget, we would have stopped it. You will recall that I was on an oversight function with some of you and we visited these buildings, and I can say that they were built at skyrocketing, over-inflated prices.
“As I speak to you, the mosque that is occupying less than 100 square meters, that is meant to be the prayer place for the Senate President and the deputy Senate President’s residences, and even the Vice-President’s residence, was awarded for over N200m. And it’s a three-bedroomed ‘boys quarterless’ structure.
“The gatehouse of the Vice-President’s residence was also awarded at over N250m. We are going to call for a review of that contract. Julius Berger said they were going to build a concrete building. I went there with a hammer and I hit it on the wall and I saw block. That investigation is ongoing. We want to make sure that government is not being short-changed. So, we are definitely going to call for a review of the contract because this is a rape of the taxpayers’ money.”