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Senate probes $18.5bn stalled Abuja Centenary City project



Nigerian Senate

Senate on Tuesday mandated its Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT to urgently investigate the factors impeding the completion of the $18.5 billion Centenary City Project in Abuja, making it difficult to achieve its economic development potential in the nation’s capital.

Subsequently, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio announced an adhoc committee to be chaired by his deputy, Senator Jibrin Barau to take a thorough look at the original public private partnership, PPP with a view to resolving all other issues that have stalled the project for 10 years, even as the Red Chamber called on the federal government to prioritize the completion of the Centenary City project.

These resolutions followed a motion, titled: “Urgent need to revive and complete the stalled Centenary City project, Abuja to realize its economic and development potential” by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Oyelola Ashiru during plenary.

According to Senator Ashiru, who represents Kwara South Senatorial District, the Abuja Centenary Economic City project commenced in 2014 through a public private partnership, PPP to develop a modern city in the mold of Dubai in the United Arab Emirate, UAE to commemorate the 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation. celebration.

He said: “The Abuja Centenary Economic City was to serve as potential economic hub, with plans to create over 150,000 construction jobs, 250,000 permanent well-paying jobs, residential accommodation for over 200,000 residents, and facilities to attract over 500,000 daily visitors, among others.”

The lawmaker noted that “the original estimated investment for the project was 18.5 billion United States Dollars as of 2014, equivalent to the size of Nigeria’s national budget at today’s exchange rate.”

Senator Ashiru added that the Centenary City was designated as a free trade zone under the Regulatory oversight of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, without prejudice to other statutory agencies like the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA; Abuja Investment Company, AIC, and the Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre, AIIC.

The Deputy Senate Leader pointed out that significant progress has been made on the similarly ambitious $6billion Eko Atlantic City development project in Lagos, that has a 25 kilometer square land reclamation project with varied completed residential towers, an eight-lane boulevard, marinas, water treatment facilities, and power infrastructure, among others.

He, however, expressed disappointment that the city is yet to be completed and unable to achieve its economic potential , calling on the Senate to review the original PPP agreement, come up with amendments for the smooth completion of the project within a defined timeframe.

In his contribution, Senator Isah Jibrin (APC Kogi Central) pushed strongly that the project should be completely private sector driven and called on the Ministry of Finance to source for credible investment banks across the globe to finance it.

Also, Senators Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) and Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central) supported the motion, but said the investigation should have been handled the Senate Committee on FCT instead of an adhoc committee.