Over six weeks after assuming office, President Bola Tinubu has yet to occupy his official residence at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While the President has been actively using his private conference room, office space, and Aso Chambers for crucial meetings with local and international guests, his official residence east of the office remains unoccupied.
In the afternoon of May 29, hours after his inauguration, Tinubu arrived at the State Banquet Hall for lunch with fellow Heads of State and country representatives, who witnessed the ceremony at Eagles Square, Abuja.
However, it is normal to see the President’s convoy leaving the premises at the close of his work day, bypassing his official residence, exiting the Villa, and heading for his Maitama private mansion. The same applies to his daily resumption.
The reason could be the ongoing renovation that began in late April when former President Buhari vacated the 32-year-old structure for a temporary residence called the Glass House.
On May 6, 2023, weeks before Tinubu’s inauguration, maintenance work began around the Villa. It encompassed recoating worn-out portions with white paint, and a change of furniture in the green room of the Council Chamber, among others.
A spokesman for Buhari, Garba Shehu, had tweeted under a picture, “Painter at work. Villa wearing a new look for the incoming President.”
A senior source in the State House had told our correspondent that Tinubu, like his predecessors, was expected to decide what kind of furniture would be installed in his official residence.
Although Buhari moved into his new residence almost three weeks after his inauguration, Presidency sources confirmed the delay to our correspondent and said the same could not be expected of the new Commander-in-Chief, who is moving in eight years after a previous occupier.
The source stated, “These things are relative. It is not fixed at all. Goodluck Jonathan stayed for five years, and Buhari stayed for eight years. So, the level of repairs that needs to be done this time must have increased.
“There may be major alterations they are trying to do. For example, the Council Chamber we use today didn’t have all the technology it has now.
“There was a point during Baba’s (Buhari’s) tenure that it had to be shut down completely because they wanted to upgrade it. We were using the First Lady’s conference room for Federal Executive Council meetings at that time. And it took a long time to effect the changes.”
Another source said, “It’s also about individual choices, what you want in a place. But he (Tinubu) occupied the office as soon as he came in.”
On June 10, a security source confided in our correspondent, “He (Tinubu) has not moved in because maintenance is still on.”
Meanwhile, our correspondent also confirmed that the Aso Rock Chapel had been actively holding weekly meetings even though the First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu, has yet to worship there.
The First Lady had stated that the President had not appointed a chaplain for the Aso Villa Chapel after the exit of the former Chaplain, Seyi Malomo.
Mrs Tinubu, in a statement last Monday, said the President reserved the right to appoint a chaplain while debunking claims on social media platforms that the Aso Villa Chapel had been closed down.
She said, “Our attention has been drawn to a story on social media about the purported closure of the Aso Rock Chapel by the First Lady; we wish to state categorically that this is a fabrication and a false representation of the true situation.
“The First Lady at no time gave such a directive that the chapel be shut nor asked for the keys to be handed over to her.”
At the time of filing this report, the former chaplain could not be reached.