Cen­te­nary City, hous­ing deficit, other mat­ters

Daily Trust - - PROPERTY - By Rogers Edor Ochela

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.

Trail­ers are be­com­ing home to Amer­i­cans with bad debts and crim­i­nal records.

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