By Jude Atupulazi
As a measure of the prudence of the present administration of Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State, the state’s Commissioner for Housing, Hon Pauli Onyeka, has told how the government drastically reduced the projected cost of the new government house and government lodge from N20b to N7.4b.
Speaking to Fides in his office in Awka, the commissioner recalled that when they came on board, it was discovered that for 32 years, Anambra had no befitting Government House and Governor’s Lodge.
‘When we got to the place we call Government House of today, we saw that it was just a fabricated structure. I was told that it was a construction site by one of the companies that constructed the Onitsha-Owerri Road at that time. So, when the new Anambra was created, they made use of that place as a temporary site. And we cannot be talking of temporary site for a government house for 32 years – it is quite incredible.
‘But under this administration, Mr Governor is taking it upon himself to see that within a year or maximum, one year and a half, the project for the construction of a new Government House and a new Governor’s Lodge would be awarded. If you go there now, you will not believe your eyes on what you will see; because work is going on simultaneously, both at the Government House and the Governor’s Lodge.
‘And when we talk about Government House and the Governor’s Lodge, people may be thinking of two houses; they will not come to terms with the fact that a lot of things go with a Government House. For instance, we are having not less than 29 major houses in that place. And most of these houses are structurally complex because of what they need to be for them to last a long time.
‘And another wonderful thing about the new government house we are constructing is that, about some years past, there was an assignment given by the government of that day, to some consortium of consultants, to look at the possibility or otherwise, and to come up with a bill of quantity for construction of a Government House, although the number of houses they had in mind then was no way near what we are putting up there now, they came up with a bill of N14.7 billion for such a construction.
As of today, if you convert the N14.7 billion to the real figures, you will be talking about over N20 billion, because of exchange rate. And I tell you, Mr Governor, a prudent personality, somebody who always has value for money, through the rigorous procurement exercise the ministry underwent with our procurement body, you find out that we are doing the same job, even in a greater way, with 7.4 billion – from N20 to N7.4 billion,’ he said.
The commissioner attributed this to what he described as the nature of the governance of the state now had. According to him, the current state government was not only doing the work but doing it at a greater level that would make it have functionality.
‘Every single house in questioned, once you get the drawing, there must be a serious interrogation towards the functionality of such. Over there, we have a government house clinic, we have a chapel, we have a banquet hall, we have guest houses, and so many things,’ the commissioner disclosed.