FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed has thrown more light on the Centenary City Project saying it is expected to attract an investment of N3.2 trillion in the next 10 years. The Minister who spoke on Thursday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee investigating land allocations in the Federal Capital Territory from 2010 till date, said the project is to be implemented outside the Land Swap Framework.
Senator Bala Mohammed also explained that a total of 880 cases relating to land matters are currently pending in various courts cutting across High Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Senator Mohammed briefed the Committee on the projects and other matters even as the Committee’s Chairman, Hon. Bimbo Daramola announced invitations to the Offices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Ministry of Aviation for further briefing on the Centenary City and Aerotropolis projects.
The Centenary City project is being pursued through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Senator Bala Mohammed said the project which is designed to commemorate 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation was envisioned as a business, leisure and tourism destination.
The FCT Minister pointed out that the development of the city, which is to span a land area of about 1,200 hectares, is 100% private sector driven. He said that the City is envisaged as a world-class environment that would give new meaning to urban life. He added that the proposed investors have formed a company, Centenary City Plc, with a Board of Directors under the chairmanship of a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar (rtd) while Sterling partners and Price Waterhouse Coopers have been appointed by the company as its legal and financial partners respectively.
Concerning the Aerotropolis project, Senator Mohammed said it is being implemented through the Federal Ministry of Aviation, which has already incorporated a special purpose vehicle, Aerotropolis Nigeria Ltd, for this purpose. The company is to develop an integrated city around the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Minister clarified that the Aerotropolis project is to be located on an area of about 2,947 hectares and is to consist of a modern airport and an expansive corridor of airport related business and residential clusters that are within 20 minutes drive from the airport. The total infrastructure cost is expected to be N342 billion and it is to be executed under the Land Swap model.
Speaking on the Land Swap policy, he said the FCTA was very conscious of the huge benefits that would be accruable from it in both the short and long term development plans of the FCT. Though still at its infancy stage, he stated that the programme has so far saved for the FCTA over N4 billion, which would have been required for district development preliminary works in the area of survey, planning and engineering services;
Furthermore, he told the committee that it has created over 400 skilled jobs and over 1,000 direct and indirect unskilled employment. Within the next four years of project execution, it is expected to create over one million direct and indirect jobs, he added. It is equally expected to attract a total investment into FCT in the areas of infrastructure and housing of not less than N993.9 billion, he stated.
According to the Minister, the Land Swap programme has so far stabilized the Abuja property market due to the seriousness with which its investors had been zealously pursuing the programme. He expressed optimism that within the next four years, cost of real property would be realistic as obtained in other capital cities of the world.
The FCT Minister also seized the opportunity to explain the rationale behind the various measures by the FCT Administration under his tenure with regard to mass housing scheme, land swap, residential and commercial plots allocations.
He said that as at date a total of 163 allocations of land under the affordable housing scheme has been made to private developers, staff housing associations and cooperative bodies that have met the laid down requirements within the designated pioneer layouts at Wasa in Kuje Area Council and Mamusa West in Phase IV of the Federal Capital City. The pilot scheme of the programme entailed the provision of a total of 1,000 affordable housing units in Karshi under Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
The Minister also disclosed that from 2010 to date, 136 companies and cooperative bodies have been allocated plots to embark on mass housing scheme in the FCT having complied with the requirements as spelt out the guidelines for mass housing development in the Territory.
In his response, Hon. Daramola expressed delight with the Minister’s clarifications which he described as a valuable lecture. He stated that if this kind of explanation had come earlier some of the complaints would not have arisen.
“I have no doubt that a lot of complainants seated here have been educated today. I noticed some of the complainants showing signs of relief and approval as the Hon. Minister was speaking… We are now better educated” the Ad Hoc Committee Chairman responded.