By Jonah Nwokpoku
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim has said that the events and projects to mark the commemoration of Nigeria’s hundred years of existence will generate over 15,000 jobs. The SGF made this known at a private sector stakeholders’ engagement forum where he presented a document on the celebrations tagged, ‘The Centenary Project’.
The SGF said the country has good reasons to celebrate its one hundred years of existence despite the several challenges that had confronted and still confronts the nation. “On January 1, 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were officially amalgamated into one nation, giving birth to modern day Nigeria. January 1, marks the 100 years of our union as a nation,” he said. “Notwithstanding our struggles and challenges, this is a period that deserves celebration by the citizens and government of Nigeria.”
The senator who pointed out that the event will be a yearlong event culminating at the new year of 2014, and concludes on first of October same year, also enumerated some of the activities that will mark the celebration to include; the centenary lottery programme, centenary concerts in Lagos, London and the USA, centenary music competition and comedy night show and miss centenary beauty pageant.
Others include; the trade and investment road shows by MDAs and state governments, centenary festivals and carnivals, special centenary legislative session and centenary sports contests. Each of these events which he said is proposed to hold monthly throughout the year will generate over 15,000 direct and indirect jobs to Nigerians.
“The centenary project will provide potentially 5000 direct jobs and over 10,000 jobs indirectly. It will also provide an economic boost especially to the informal sector, the petty traders and the hospitality sector service providers.”
The forum which held at Harbourpoint, Victoria Island, Lagos was aimed at wooing members of the organized private sector to invest in the centenary project. According to the senator, “the whole idea is to seek consultation with the organized private sector.”
He outlined the road map to actualizing the centenary project to include; “government partnership with interested corporate organisations which show commitment and capacity to organise and manage a well packaged Nigerian centenary project, signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company or consortium of companies selected to organize and manage the centenary project and liaising with the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to ensure that the objectives of the centenary projects are realized fully.”
In response to the SGF’s request, some leading members of the organised private sector who were at the forum pledged their commitments to the centenary project but urged government to draw up plans of celebration that would benefit the people and as well be sustained.
The Group Managing Director, Julius Berger Plc, Mr. Wolfgang Goetsch, who represented the construction sector commended the initiative for the proposed centenary city but advised government to build something unique and sustainable instead of modeling other existing cities.
“We are committed to the one hundred years of Nigeria as a nation but there is no need to build a second Dubai or Singapore. We need to build a city that over 160 million people would be proud of. And it should be in the right quality and standard in order to ensure sustainability.”
On his part, the chairman Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu who saw the celebration as a rebranding opportunity for Nigeria, while pledging his commitment to it also urged government to exploit the opportunity to teach the true history of Nigeria to the young people.
“This is a rebranding opportunity for Nigeria, and government should use this opportunity to introduce the history of Nigeria into the primary and secondary schools curriculum, to teach our young ones the real history of Nigeria.”