Finally waking up to the realities that some Federal Government properties still rot away in Lagos, the National Assembly has begun investigation into the abandoned National Provident Fund building, now known as Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) along the Badagry expressway.
The culture of waste that has recently dotted Nigeria’s landscape, continued to take its toll on properties and infrastructure. The edifice whose value experts say worth about N50 billion has been lying idle over 40 years.
Located on approximately two acres of land, on Essume Street, opposite Ade and Ola Streets, Iyana Era, the over 18-floors controversial building with other adjoining structures has become a safe den for smokers, criminals and abode for miscreants who visit the project, on a daily basis.
The Guardian investigations revealed that the project conceived in 1979, during the regime of a former president Olusegun Obasanjo was to be developed into a befitting headquarters for the NSITF. The project is proximal to National Postgraduate Medical College, Federal Government College Ijanikin, among other institutions. NSITF is one of the foremost social insurance organisations in Africa with a long history of service dating back to 1961. It started in 1961 as the National Provident Fund with the mandate to protect employees in the Nigerian private sector who were mostly in non-pensionable employment.
Specifically, The Guardian gathered over the weekend that the National Assembly has shown interest in the property. The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Labour are presently examining the state of the building with a view to taking a position on it. The committees have already visited the property on an oversight function and the conclusion was that the committees would get back to all the interested parties in due course”.
The General Manager, (Administration) of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Mr. Segun Basorun confirmed the development. He said that the decision on what to do with the building is entirely in the hands of the National Assembly stressing that NSITF can’t on its own take a decision on it.
“The issue of that building is before the National Assembly because someone raised the issue with both committees. The National Assembly said they were going to get back to us and we are waiting for their directive on the issue.
“NSITF cannot go ahead and do anything with the building now that the National Assembly has shown interest in how the building should be handled. The NSITF cannot pre-empt the National Assembly on the matter”, he said
But the project has not been in use for any good reason regardless that the construction has reached an advanced stage for decades. Young boys in the locality now use the premises as suitable football pitch where they play games on daily basis especially in the evening. The surroundings of the building have also been turned into a dunghill and there hasn’t been any report on whether the structure has been put up for redevelopment.
The Guardian visit to the location last week further showed that many of the occupiers of the edifice are area boys who smoke and drink right in the heart of the building while some young boys were also seen playing with their lovers.
Residents of the area have also turned the premises of building now standing in the middle of a bush into other various uses like selling of motor engine oil, alcoholic drinks, food and auto-mechanic workshops where all kinds of faulty vehicles were repaired.
Despite being situated close to different churches (white garment and Pentecostal) right from the entrance of the street, the structure has become a mecca for nefarious activities as confirmed by a resident of the area, Mr. Jude Alozie. Inside the down floor are old looking arranged white plastic chairs, which he stated are used by some group of people for regular meetings.
Alozie said the police had in the past raided the building to arrest people that come to there to smoke and engage in other anti-social behaviour, but shortly afterward the usual police raids, the perpetrators would return, for their usual dealings.
“We always see young men and girls parading the location for some unknown motives. Some associations have made the building their meeting venues. It is very pathetic that the building has been there for a while and nobody has done anything significant to ensure that it is put to good use.
“How can you imagine this type of huge project been left to waste away. It is the biggest building in this area till date and it is a shame of the nation to have left such a mighty project wasting away,” he said.
Speaking on the development, a property developer in the area, Mr. Joe Emmanuel expressed worries on the culture of abandonment of projects in the country, stating that it is affecting the overall infrastructural development of the nation.
“It is disheartening to see such project that must have cost so much money waste away. The best thing that could happen to the structure going by its age-long neglect is to pull it down for reconstruction because the architectural design is already out of fashion in the building industry,” he stated.