Monday, January 24, 2022

Who’s The Landlord?! FG Pays N400.1m As Rent For Aso Rock Villa – Report

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The Federal Government (FG), according to reports, would have paid in excess of N400 million by 2021, as rent for Aso Rock residential quarters, as questions remain on who the mystery landlord is.

As obtainable in previous years, the 2021 State House budget has earmarked N66.6 million as payment for ‘residential rent’; a provision that many Nigerians have described as ‘suspicious’ with questions on if, indeed, Aso Rock is on rent.

In 2016, following an outcry on the same item in the FG budget, former Head of State; who doubles as the first occupant of Aso Rock, Ibrahim Babangida, lent his voice to criticism of the residential rent provision; asking the FG to explain who exactly are the landlords.

“I built Aso Rock and I wonder who the current landlord is. I read a certain N22M for the payment of Aso Rock rent. Rent to who? Me or GEJ?” Babangida asked in 2016.

Aso Rock Presidential Villa was constructed on October 13, 1989, by Ibrahim Babaginda.  It followed a 1976 proclamation by the Military Government of Murtala Mohammed for a more central state capital.

On November 1, 1991, the Aso Rock Presidential Villa was completed. Thereafter, President Babangida became the first Head of State to occupy it, moving in on December 12, 1991.

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Although the controversy precedes President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration; the item, has over the years continued to not only be a permanent feature of the State House budget; but has increased in the last five years.

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In 2015, N22.4 million was budgeted as a rent payment for the State House. By 2016, it  increased to N27.73m.

Despite the outcry that trailed the previous year and economic uncertainty, the 2017 provision saw a massive increase by over 123% to N77.54m.

The 2018, 2019, and 2020 budgets also provided 66.6 million as rent for payment.

Structures in the State House also called the Villa, include Office and Residence of the President, Offices of the Vice President and Wife of the President, the State House Conference Center, State House Annexe, and the Akinola Aguda House.

In the assumption of office in 2015, President Buhari promised Nigerians he would cut waste from government spending while its funds would be directed to the public good.

“The residential payment could be for those working in the statehouse, living around the villa,” Atiku Samuel a Research Lead at BudgIT explained when asked on the provision.

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In 2016, BudgIT described the provision as a suspicious item, asking the Federal government to explain why the state house budget should have a residential rent provision.

“Why is Aso Rock on rent? Who are we renting the residential quarters in Aso Rock from? Who is the real landlord of Aso Rock?” BudgIT had asked.
Photo Credit: Getty

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