Centenary City, housing deficit, other matters
That Nigeria has been experiencing acute housing deficit over the years in spite of official platitude of Housing for All is not debatable. And that the efforts of successive administrations to tackle same have proved largely ineffective is equally not in contention. What is however in contention is the suitable approach to tackle the lingering crisis that is threatening to prolong the hope of millions of Nigerians for decent housing.
It is the determination to bridge this huge housing deficit and to also commemorate 100 years of Nigeria’s existence as a corporate entity that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) under the leadership of Sen. Bala Mohammed recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Management of the Centenary City Plc for the building of an octopoidal Centenary City in Abuja worth $18 billion. The project site is located near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, admitted that the road leading to the signing of the MOU was full of thorns, interspersed with disagreements involving the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), which is coordinating the project, FCTA and the firm, which were later amicably resolved, stressing that government is one and the common vision is that the parties work in tandem with the vision of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The project, which has Sterling Partners and Price Waterhouse Coopers as its legal and financial partners respectively, is envisioned to span a land mass of 1, 264 hectares and 100 percent private-sector driven is expected to be completed in 60 months. It is expected to attract direct foreign investment to the tune of N3 trillion to the country.
The minister, who asked the investors not to deviate from the initial concept, said that the project will open up the nation’s economy to foreign investors. Said he: “This is the first city in Africa where the portion for residential purpose is only 20 percent; the remaining 80 percent will be dedicated to commercial activities.
Mohammed assured that nobody would be shortchanged as the project will be developed in a manner that will generate employment and contribute immensely to accelerating the development of the FCT in compliance with the FCDA Act. He said all the communities affected by the project have been settled 100 percent in terms of compensation for economic trees.
The Managing Director of Centenary City Plc, Dr. Odenigwe Ike Michael who received the Certificate of Occupancy promised to execute the project according to specification.
It would be recalled that the project was trailed by the allegation that the land for the centenary project was acquired illegally through land swap and fears expressed concerning the sources of funding. This allegation, nay fears were later allayed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who said the project will maximize the land use act in the FCT, create employment for thousands of Nigerians, adding that the project will be developed in three phases and will be completed between seven and 10 years.
It is expected that the Abuja Centenary City will be the financial hub of the capital of Nigeria.
An efficient business enclave will position Nigeria as a key player in the global financial arena.
The new city will be sustainable because it balances economic, social, cultural and environmental factors to produce harmonic development.
The Abuja Centenary City is part of the celebration of the Independence Centenary of Nigeria and is a project of the future. It will be a high profitable entity for the government agencies, investors and users because of its designation as a “duty free zone” and “tax shelter” with special banking regulations.
The new city will be one of the most powerful catalysts that will trigger opportunities for better social and economic development in Nigeria.
The decision makers of Nigeria have provided excellent conditions and land for development, now it is up for the investors and technicians to perform the highest quality work to make this project a reality.
The city is conceived as a centre for the preservation of Nigeria’s political history and documentation of its contributions to the political, cultural and economic development and the advancement of peace and security in the world, as well as the hub of economic activities.
The goal is to create a new city, a modern urban centrality for the sustainable development of this magic land, where natural beauty and architecture icons must merge together to create an environment that is alive and productive.
The city will re-introduce Abuja to the world with the following features: a green city with a natural buffer that envelopes the entire city and encircles the central neighbourhood that protects and nurtures the world with world-class public facilities; zero waste management aimed at reducing waste to zero. Domestic waste will be used to create nutrientrich soil, fertilizer and incinerated as an additional power source. Other waste such as plastic and metal will be recycled or re-purposed for other uses; a central park that will provide the green-spirit which gives orientation, clarity and iconic power to the city as a whole but most powerfully to the city centre.
This is one project that must be completed on schedule with a view to fulfilling its purpose of not only providing shelter, but to create the intended employment opportunities for thousands of Nigerians.
Ochela writes from Abuja.
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