by Isi Esene
The federal government has given reasons for its intention to build a befitting banquet hall in the Presidential Villa. It said the uproar which heralded the announcement to build the N2.2billion structure is fueled by “clear misconceptions and misunderstanding”.
This was addressed yesterday by the minister of information, Labaran Maku and the Federal Capital Territory minister, Bala Muhammed.
According to Maku, the existing banquet hall was specially built for big national events like concerts that would attract about 2,000 people. He said the president is finding it difficult getting appropriate space to hold his live broadcasts to the nation.
“Whenever Mr. President has a live programme to broadcast to the nation, he has to come to the cafeteria where refreshments are served to hold the programme because there is no space for that kind of live programmes.
“There has also been problems in getting telephones to work in a situation where such programmes are phone-in ones.
“The existing banquet hall is for big events like concerts for about 1,000 or 2,000 people.”
“There is absolutely no space. The President receives visitors in the First Lady’s Conference Room. The new hall is absolutely a necessity, it is not duplication. Events will still take place at the existing banquet hall.”
The FCT minister, Bala Muhammed reportedly argued that the new banquet hall was captured in the 2012 Budget.
He explained saying, “The FCT operates two budgets – the National Priority Budget and the FCT Statutory Budget. This project is captured in the statutory budget approved by the National Assembly. It is not true that it is an unbudgeted project.”
He explained that the new hall would be a multi-purpose hall that would have broadcast facilities for the president to address the nation and lounge for visiting heads of governments.