The Nigerian Presidential Complex houses are known as the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. Its structures include the Office and Residence of the President, Offices of the Vice President and Wife of the President, the State House Conference Center, State House Annexe and the Akinola Aguda House.
In 1976, the Military Government of Murtala Mohammed decided to relocate the nation’s Federal Capital from Lagos to a more central location and set up a panel headed by Justice Akinola Aguda to make recommendations.
The panel made a recommendation for the creation of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the centre of the country. On February 3, 1976, General Mohammed issued a proclamation to this effect.
The construction of Abuja started at the beginning of the 1980s. Akinola Aguda House (formally christened on October 1, 1983) was originally conceived as a Presidential Lodge & Guest House Complex – made up of a temporary official residence for the President (pending the construction of a permanent Presidential Residence), as well as Guest Houses for visiting Heads of State – during the presidency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
President Ibrahim Babangida, who took office in 1985, kicked off the construction of a new Presidential residence on October 13, 1989. On November 1, 1991, the Aso Rock Presidential Villa was completed and President Babangida became the first Head of State to occupy it, moving in on December 12, 1991.
Upon completion of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, the Aguda House became the Vice Presidential Complex and has remained so till date — apart from the period between 1999 and 2007 when the Vice President lived in a Residence that has since been transferred to the Judiciary as Official Quarters for the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Aso Rock Presidential Villa is variously known as Aso Villa, The Villa, Aso Rock and State House. It is located at Yakubu Gowon Crescent, The Three Arms Zone, Asokoro, federal capital territory, Abuja, Nigeria. The Villa is a national monument, it neither belongs to the president nor any particular person.
It is located close to a popular site in Nigeria known as Aso rock hence it is named after the rock. In Gbagyi dialect (the name and the language of the ethnic group who are predominantly found in the FCT), the word ‘Aso’ means victory. Thus, this Rock holds a sufficiently great importance in the history and culture of the Gbagyi people. There are a couple of local priests who take care of the rock and it is usually said that before anyone can climb or enter any of the caves, he/she must first seek the approval of the priests.
The rock, which measures 400-metres in length and about 936 metres in length and about 936 metres above sea level, is the most outstanding feature in Nigeria’s capital city as well as the biggest and highest rock in the Federal Capital Territory. Apart from the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, which is the only structure built in the valley of the rock, this location also houses two other major seats of power of the Nigerian Federal Government – the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court.
Unlike the presidential villas of some other countries such as the United State White House, the Aso Rock Presidential Villa is a highly restricted area probably for security reasons, hence most people are only privileged to see just the outside view. This was not so initially as tourists were formally allowed to visit the Villa as long as they have clearance from the relevant authorities, however, this access was greatly limited following the increase in the menace of terrorist attacks by Boko Haram.
Since 1991, Aso Villa has had the following occupants Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.
Here’s an inside view of the Presidential Villa