By Toby Prince
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, has said the lack of funds was responsible for the delay in the completion of the party’s N16bn new national secretariat in Abuja.
Secondus, who spoke through his media aide, Ike Abonyi, in an interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, however, said the multiple-storeyed building project had not been abandoned.
He said it would be completed as soon as funds were available.
He said, “The secretariat is not an abandoned project. Funding challenges stalled the work. The project is dear to the party, the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee. Work will resume soon subject to availability of funds.”
The 12-storeyed building, located at the Central Business District, Abuja, has remained uncompleted 11 years after the conception of the project by the leaders of the party.
It was learnt that the project, which was expected to have been completed within 126 weeks, at an initial cost of N11.5bn, was conceived in 2008 by the fourth national chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali.
Our correspondent gathered that as a result of construction variations over the years, the cost of the project, which was awarded to BNL Limited, increased from N11.5bn to N16bn.
It was also learnt that shortly after the conception of the project, about N6bn was realised during a fund-raising.
Our correspondent further gathered that the PDP had, in December 2014, realised N21bn at its fundraising dinner.
Dignitaries that attended the event included the then President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President, Namadi Sambo, the then PDP Board of Trustees’ Chairman, the late Chief Tony Anenih, and the then PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
Sources told our correspondent that the Chairman of the 2014 fundraising committee, Prof Jerry Gana, had on January 5, 2015, said the funds raised were not only for the 2015 presidential campaign, but that part of it would be used to complete the secretariat.
However, our correspondent who visited the project observed that a lot of work still needed to be done to complete it.
A member of the PDP National Executive Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was sad that the edifice had remained uncompleted.
He explained that paucity of fund for the project became compounded after the PDP lost the presidential election in 2015.
He also alleged that many prominent members of the party were being harassed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which, according to him, has made many wealthy PDP members decline to donate to the project to escape the prying eyes of the EFCC.