By Chris Ochayi
Developer and stakeholder in the $18.5 billion Abuja Centenary City project, Alhaji Alhassan Baba Dantata, has warned that the smart city is not a haven for treasury looters to hide their ill-gotten wealth.
Dantata, who issued the warning while addressing newsmen on the recent progress made at the project site, especially the commencement of the construction works, said, only Nigerians with legitimate source of income and access to mortgage facilities would be allowed to invest in the project.
Dantata, who is handling the signature infrastructure called Buhari Tower, named after President Muhammadu Buhari, within the Centenary City Project, disclosed also that a section of the 1,262 hectare smart city has been earmarked for former Nigerian Presidents to use for their libraries and archives.
Disclosing that the Buhari Tower was designed mainly for low income earners, Dantata, however, called on civil servants, workers and other Nigerians with legitimate source of livelihood to latch on to the golden opportunity of owning luxury and affordable houses that will soon spring up at the city.
According to him: “The person that has the right to buy into this project, first of all, is somebody who has money or access to money through mortgage. Now, as everybody knows, like Mr. Udo, who is a Nigerian, like the president, we don’t want any dirty cash here.
“So, it is not going to be a haven where people will come and hide money. For every investment, first of all, let me say this, every design of any project here has to go to Dubai for approval because the financiers are coming from Dubai.
“The company called Front Gate, as you can see it there, is going to build affordable housing units. In one of my own projects, the Buhari Tower, as mentioned abinitio, is called affordable luxury homes for the common man. Affordable, which means you can pay. Luxury which means you can enjoy life.
“Because President Muhammadu Buhari is a fighter for the common man, we will make sure we carry his people along,” Dantata explained.
Alhaji Dantata disclosed that the Buhari Tower will cater for the interest of civil servants who will not be able to afford most of the houses that will be built there, adding that the houses in the Tower will be sold to civil servants at the cost of N15-20 million which is the maximum approved for low income houses by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN.
The business tycoon disclosed further that the management of Buhari Tower is currently in discussion with the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, HoSF, in order to sensitise the civil servants to buy into this scheme.
He noted that the HoSF has been approached to shortlist names of beneficiaries across board including the MDAs so that we have competitors, adding: “I am talking to the Service chiefs, the Army, and Air Force, to also be part of this scheme.
Dantata said the “Project is going to create 150 jobs through evolution. It is going to have at least 140,000 residences. It is going to create 250,000 daily jobs. So, at this austere period that we are going through globally, I think this is a much needed development.
“Unfortunately, this project was delayed and slowed down for quite a while. And now, we thank God that this project is coming up. I can assure you within a few months or a year you will see the difference,” he noted. According to him, “This is the project that was initiated by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, when the Federal Government celebrated 100 years of Nigerian existence. And because of that, we invited a lot of important people from all over the world.”
“People like the Tanzanian President, was the main man who broke the ground for this project to celebrate our self sustenance, our independence and our future. It was during that celebration that the idea of the Centenary City project was conceived by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim.
“And it was Chief Anyim’s efforts, drive and focus that brought us to where we are today. This project is something that is very laudable economically, socially and financially. There is no project like this today anywhere in the world that has the mean, the stature, the size, 100 per cent funding from external financiers”, Dantata stated.
He said the city boasts of 260 luxury villas, 256 apartments building, 13 waterfront retail areas, 139 office buildings, 313,697 square metre hotel suites and serviced apartments, 30 floors of luxury apartments, among other offerings including $50 million city gate.