Thirty-two years after it was abandoned, the Anambra State Government handed over the site of the proposed Government House project, Awka, to two sets of contractors for refurbishment and completion within 18 months. The project will cost N7.4 billion.
Work on the Government House was stalled for about 32 years since the first military administrator of the state, Navy Captain Joseph Abulu, began the project.
The major issue that finally nailed the project arose in 2003 when Dr Chris Ngige came into office as Governor and stopped the monthly N10million Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) which was usually deducted from the source of the state allocation.
Speaking while handing over the work plans to the contractors, the State Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Pauly Onyeka said that the project consists of two lots in which lot A will house over twenty-four buildings and out of which only two which have been erected will be renovated and refurbished, while the rest will start from the foundation to the finish.
According to Onyeka, Governor Chukwuma Soludo is passionate about the project which he said is very dear to Ndi Anambra, and urged the contractors and consultants to bring to bear a high level of proficiency and excellence during the construction and renovation to ensure that the intended result is achieved at the record time. He emphasized the need for feedback from the contractors and stated that the consultants will always be on the ground to attend to issues, and that contending issues should be channeled to his office.
He warned anyone who is not ready to work professionally to voluntarily exit as no form of indolence or ineffectiveness will be accepted by them.
However, while the state rolls out drums in celebration of the project, landowners and allottees of the area are apprehensive that their lands may be revoked by the government due to the proximity to the government house.
The issue therein is that over 34 plots of land were allocated to former members of the Anambra state House of Assembly by the past administration.
Some of the letters of allocation read: “With reference to the application for allocation of alternative plots of land in the Executive Business District layout Awka to members of the State House of Assembly as an alternative to the earlier allocation Uvunu Neighborhood layout New Town Amawbia, I wish to inform you that His Excellency the Governor of Anambra has graciously approved the allocation Plot R/ 34 Executive Business District layout Awka to you.
The letter had the following terms and conditions:
“Plot R/ 34 Executive Business District layout Awka measuring approximately 1000 square meters;
Term two: “99 years from January January 2014 at N3.00 per square metre with a rent reversion every five years of the term and N200.00 per square metre premium for the purposes of residence”.
One of the allottees, Mrs. Beatrice Obi a retired Deputy Director, Federal Inland Revenue Services who spoke to journalists in Awka said: “I used my retirement entitlements to buy this land from a lawmaker and built this duplex so that I can retire peacefully but today my land is being threatened.
“I and my family have no place to go and my appeal to the governor is for them to consider our plight and do something reasonable by either setting us with a land around a place called Xfit area as well as the cost of building those houses”, she said.
Also speaking, Mr. Kaodilinye Christopher said that he bought his own plot from a member of the State House Assembly with the certified land document which is with the state ministry of lands and Urban Planning.
“The land is genuine and I have all the papers which the Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning have those documents and they have confirmed it.
“But we are hearing that government wants to revoke those lands because of the New Government House project though the government has not issued any statement in that regard.
“We express our happiness over what Governor Charles Soludo is doing and we the people of Anambra state are supporting him to provide a befitting Government House for the state.
“But we urge him to consider us because we have developed almost the entire land by either giving us alternative plots of land or inviting us for talks to fashion out how this would be resolved,” he said.
Investigation revealed that only a few of the allottees have developed their plots.
It will be recalled that under the administration of Governor Peter Obi, the Government mapped out another area at Isiagu Community also in Awka South Local council to be developed as a new arms zone. The design according to the government of the time was to bring all three arms of government under one environment.
However, Saturday Independent learned that the choice of Isiagu for a three-arms zone did not go down well with Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo because according to Investigations the area is on a slope and vulnerable to attack. As a result, locating the three arms zone poses a risk.