By Charles Adingupu
When the Federal Government first announced plans to build the centenary city, critics were quick to conclude that it was another avenue for government officials to enrich their pockets with government funds, but the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim during the week at a forum, said the proposed project, apart from making Nigeria an investment destination, will also serve as a window for job creation for the teeming unemployed Nigerians and a monument that would serve as a symbol of our unity.
Some Nigerians perceive the proposed centenary city being proposed by the Federal Government as another white elephant project which only reminds the people of their bitter colonial experience. But Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim had at different fora dismissed insinuations that the project will be sponsored by the Federal Government.
At a recent gathering during the week, Senator Pius Anyim stated that the centenary project provides a window for Nigeria’s vast trade and economic potentials to be promoted through trade and investment shows.
The SGF who disclosed that the centenary project was conceived as a private sector initiative as it will be largely self funding, said that this explains the compelling need to mobilise all Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora to identify with and participate actively in its process and management in order to attract sponsorship and investments from the corporate and investing community.
Anyim who disclosed that the proposed centenary city will be a multi-faceted and multi-location event, assured that the project will provide unique opportunity for corporate organizations to properly present themselves.
“With the support and active participation of the private sector, the centenary will provide 5,000 jobs directly and over 10,000 jobs indirectly besides providing an economic boost especially to the informal sector, the petty traders and hospitality sector service provider,” he said.
Under the arrangement, the SGF said that the sponsorship engagement strategy will run on a partnership model where brand will enjoy the flexibility of adopting the programmes and implement same in accordance with laid down principles.
As part of the road map to the actualisation of the project, Senator Anyim said government will not hesitate to partner with interested corporate organisations which demonstrate commitment and capacity to organise and manage a well packaged Nigerian centenary project.
He said government will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the company or consortium of companies selected to organise and manage the centenary project.
The SGF assured that the company will register and own the exclusive right to the centenary activities in all aspects and areas, and may subsequently sub-grant such rights in specific areas if it so desires.
According to him, the company will be liaising with the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to ensure that the objectives of the centenary project are not derailed.
The centenary city
The SGF who gave a graphic picture of the centenary city to be located in Abuja, said the city which was conceived to focus the attention of the investing world to Nigeria will replicate the successes of such cities as Dubai, Monaco, Shenzhen, Singapore and lately Songdo would serve as the strongest social, political and economic tool to securing foreign investment and signal new national economic awakening.
“The centenary city is a new “smart city” to be built from the scratch on more than 1,000 hectres of virgin land along Airport road in Abuja, making the second but largest “private city” development on history after Songdo International Business District in South Korea,” Anyim disclosed.
He further stated that the land for the centenary city would be acquired in accordance with the FCT Land Swap Agreement, adding that being private sector driven, the government would not invest any money in it.
The SGF said the need to create a new city was predicated on the urgency to build a modern urban centrality for sustainable development where national beauty and architectural icons fuse together to create an environment that is alive and productive.
Senator Anyim said that the centenary project which is anchored on three pillars, was conceived to be an event to hold in Abuja, all state capitals, some historic towns and cities in Nigeria will among others, institute legacy projects, create job opportunities, assured enterprise development, boost tourism and promote sports development.
The SGF however assured that by the end of its five years development cycle, the innovative and vibrant centenary city would have created over 50,000 construction jobs and 5,000 permanent well-paying jobs.
He disclosed that the city is planned for a residential population of about 100,000 people and will host no fewer than 500,000 visitors on daily basis. Senator Anyim said that the project is targetted at promoting world class multinational and domestic businesses in a world class and master planned environment which gives meaning to life, energy for work and pleasure for play as well as contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth, diversity and greatness into the next centenary.