A signature infrastructure named after President Muhammadu Buhari has been earmarked for construction within the Centenary City project in Abuja.
The foundation called ‘Buhari Tower’ would be laid in the next four weeks as work is set to begin at the site.
The project, which was conceived in 2014 to serve as a remarkable project to mark Nigeria’s 100 years of existence, has witnessed several hiccups arising from administrative and procedural issues.
Many residential flats
The representative of one of the co-developers, Al-hassan Dantata, who spoke during the introduction of the Joint Development Foreign Partner, Front Range FZE by Centenary City Plc, said that the ‘Buhari Towers’ would house many residential flats and sold to middle-income earners.
Unveiling the Abuja Centenary master plan, Mr Dantata explained that naming of the towers after the incumbent President had no political undertone whatsoever.
According to him, “the name ‘Buhari’ represents the poor people of Nigeria. So as a businessman and an admirer of the president, I’m only doing this as an honor to the pro-masses vision of president Buhari.”
The Managing Director, Abuja Centenary City Plc, Mr Okechukwu Odenigwe said that about 250,000 direct employment would be created from the project.
Unlike other Free Trade Zones, Mr Odenigwe stated that the Centenary City would utilise 100 per cent local talents and manpower to implement the project, saying that the only expatriate they have is the foreign investor from Dubai.
He also disclosed that 40 local and foreign investors were pulling resources together to build the City, with $18.76 billion Naira being committed by foreign partners from the United Arab Emirate.
The Managing Director further said that the master plan also took cognisance of the environment and existing infrastructure within the location.
“The Centenary Economic City Free Zone is a strategy of the government to diversify the economy of the country. It is a legacy of Nigeria’s 100 years anniversary and the economic free zone. And it will be built at no cost on government…With tourism, sport, entertainment and businesses, the city is very critical to Nigeria’s growth as its population is expected to grow more and it’s part of an idea to preparing the country towards a greater and better future,” Mr Odenigwe explained.
He said; “It will be the first private owned Safari Park in the world. And Over 250,000 Nigerians will be employed in the centenary city, many of which will be office work (Blue collar jobs). The City is simply a step to fighting for the future of our young ones.”
“The City is an economic free zone like Dubai, Qatar, Eko Atlantic City. It shall focus on tourism, leisure and history. And it is regulated by Nigeria Export Processes Zone Authority, NEPZA”, he stressed.
Mr Odenigwe said that, “so far, it is the most dynamically committed Free Zone as over $40m has already been spent by the investors in the project. We follow due process in everything about the development of the City. And it has been created for transparency from all investigations by the National Assembly.
“We will also make sure the green spaces are connected with different bridges linking different areas of the city. The master plan is a living document which would keep changing as development progresses with a view to accommodating emerging development realities.”
“It also takes care of the issue of community services where the interest of surrounding communities is taken into cognisance. This would include the provision of schools from Nursery to Secondary, neighbourhood healthcare and sporting facilities,”Mr Odenigwe added.
Foreign Direct Investment
The Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr Emmanuel Jime assured Nigerians, local and international investors that the Centenary City Abuja would soon become a reality.
Mr. Jime said that the mega city has come to stay, saying that the project will attract huge Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and halt capital flight which has drained Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
He believes the project would soon come on stream after mobilising the site to commence work on the project.
Also in attendant at the event were two traditional rulers from Kuje and Jiwa Emirates that represented the original inhabitants of the project site.
Reacting to the issues of resettlement and compensation of the original inhabitants, the Gomo of Kuje (His Royal Highness), Alhaji Haruna Jibrin said that they were 100 percent compensated by the developers before embarking on the project.