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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.