As the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu prepares to take up residence in the presidential villa Aso Rock, following his victory in the 2023 general elections there are some interesting facts about the villa that you may not know.
The Aso Rock Presidential Villa which is the official residence of presidents of the federal republic of Nigeria has housed seven Nigerian presidents from its inception. As Tinubu prepares for the iconic presidential villa, let’s look at some little known facts about Aso Rock.
When it was built
The construction of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa took about two years to build began in 1989, and it was completed in 1991, becoming the country’s new capital seat of power. It is located on the Aso Rock formation in Abuja, Nigeria.
The capital of Nigeria used to be in Lagos before the decision to move it to Abuja was conceived by the government of Murtala Mohammed in 1976. The project was not completed until the regime of Ibrahim Babangida, who was the head of state about 15 years later.
Resident of the Aso Rock
The Aso Rock Presidential villa is built for both the office and residence of only the President of the federal republic of Nigeria.
After the completion of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, the Aguda House became the Vice Presidential Complex until 2010 when the building of the residence of the vice-president commenced. There are other officials and staff who work and reside in Aso Rock.
First Nigerian Leader in Aso Rock
The first Nigerian leader to reside in Aso Rock Villa was Ibrahim Babaginda in 1991. He was however succeeded by Ernest Shonekan, the first interim President of Nigeria in 1993.
The Murtala Mohammed government brought the ideal of the villa but Ibrahim Babangida, who took office in 1985, began construction of a new Aso Rock Presidential residence and it was completed in 1991. This made Babangida the first Head of State to occupy it, on December 12, 1991.
Aso Rock Villa construction style
The Aso Rock presidential villa features one of the most prominent architectural styles in the word. The architectural design is known as Neo-classical also known as neo-palladian and Palladian designs.
The Villa, which models some notable places with similar designs in the US White House and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC, is as big as the real Aso Rock, which is a 400-metre monolith rock.
It housed several Important Nigerian buildings like the Nigerian Presidential Complex, Nigerian National Assembly, and Nigerian Supreme Court. Also, there is a chapel, restaurant,mosque and a hospital.
Aso rock Villa controversies
One notable controversy associated with the presidential villa is the burglary of the residence of the Chief of Staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja in 2021.
This raised a concern over the incompetence of the security agents and their failure to arrest the Aso Rock burglars.
Aso Rock history
The Military Government of Murtala Mohammed took the decision to relocate the Federal Capital from Lagos and set up a committee under the leadership of Justice Akinola Aguda in 1976 which recommended the creation of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the center of the country.
The Presidential Lodge & Guest House Complex originally happened at Akinola Aguda House which hosted its first ever cabinet meeting days after the independence anniversary.
President Ibrahim Babangida, who took office in 1985, commenced construction of a new presidential residence in 1989 and completed it in 1991 and President Babangida became the first Head of State to occupy it.
The Aso Rock Villa is the most protected statehouse in the whole of Africa being guarded by a group of well trained soldiers known as the Presidential Guards Brigade.
The Presidential Guards Brigade officers is simply a specialized brigade of the Nigerian Army tasked with protecting the President of the country.
The brigade which is divided into 4 to include the 3rd Battalion, 7th Battalion, 26th Battalion, Guards Brigade Band, and Pipe Section are trained not just to protect the presidents of Nigeria but the First Lady of Nigeria, Vice President of Nigeria, President of Senate, Speaker House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of Nigeria.